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Day 578: Target Recovery Zones – The How

I ended my last post on the city’s announcement of Target Recovery zones by asking how this first phase of rebuilding, redevelopment and renewal will go forward.  Karen Gadbois and Laureen Lentz of Squandered Heritage will be featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition regarding the houses on the City List that will be demolished after the March 31st deadline.  Karen points out a very disturbing fact about this deadline, which relates one source of Target Recovery funds to the criminal delay of the Road Home program.

Many of the 280+ homes on the current list are a threat to health and safety but there are some which are marginal and cases where the homeowner is awaiting word from the Road Home regarding their funds to repair their property.

… when speaking of his many pots of money for redevelopment [Blakely] mentions [that] the no. 3 ˜chunk“ would come from blight bonds. These bonds would use blighted property adjudicated from homeowners to fund Blakely“s projects.

Here is a glaring example of the lack of coordination between New Orleans and Louisiana governments.  How will an owner know whether or not to keep his land and home while not knowing the amount of his reimbursement in time?  Does the city have the right to effectively seize homes despite proof of ownership and a known Road Home delay?  If such cases are only a small percentage of the list, can and will the city make an exception for them?  Educate me.

2 comments… add one
  • Amy x March 29, 2007, 6:14 PM

    I had the priveledge of meeting with Dr. Blakely yesterday with a community group to review the plans. No disrespect but I believe you are confusing multiple categories of properties and I will explain best I can and we’ll see how it shakes out.
    OK. 1st group- awaiting city demolitions- if the request was made by the land owner, especially if the house was inhabited pre-K, its probably not on the blight list. There may be blighted properties on the demo list, it would be the list of *city* requested demolitions for their blighted/adjudicated properties, which would be the second category- already (probably for years) on the blighted lists- these will secure the bonds, after “lot next door” candidates are cleared out. The third category, road home relinquishments, have an undetermined fate. Many suggest that NORA is the agency who will receive the properties for disposition and redevelopment. NORA will also presumably dispose of the blighted properties once their fate is determined, so there are common elements. Also it is why NORA MUST be citizen monitored- they are a very, very powerful agency with no current public oversight. (And their board is appointed by the mayor) Anyway, you asked other questions:

    “Here is a glaring example of the lack of coordination between New Orleans and Louisiana governments.”

    There are relationships being worked out and these target zones will be the learning curve, but for the most part Dr. Blakely’s projects have very, very little (other than recovery in general) with the road home grants and/or city demolition timelines. These things are running concurrently. The intent of the city demolition program is to provide free demolitions for people that ask for them and long-blighted dangerous cases. I’m not aware of a single involuntary demolition, are you? I would be very alarmed and I’m even a land-grab conspiracy theorist to rival ray-ray but this isn’t where it is. If anywhere its at NORA and on the Riverfront. Watch those carefully.

    “How will an owner know whether or not to keep his land and home while not knowing the amount of his reimbursement in time?”
    I need to see the marginal test case, because why is the house on the demo list if the owner intends to repair? If there is a special case or cases usually what bureaucrats do is the agreeable ones first, giving time for the wild cards to work out. It seems like the worst they are at risk for right now is loosing the free demolition service. Another issue completely is the “Good Neighbor” program, —

    “Does the city have the right to effectively seize homes despite proof of ownership and a known Road Home delay?”

    The Good Neighbor is for unaddressed flood properties to start the process of expropriation. It is unknown or unstated to me how long that process is. What I understand is that they will first start with placing health and safety liens on your property like a tax lien if the city has to come cut your grass because you aren’t. after a certain period the city can expropriate and I guarantee you the city attorney’s office has people working on how to do that now. That is where we must watch areas like Gentilly, where families have struggled to return without schools and services, and developers are circling for these properties to become available. Then the (new) population needs the services to be brought online so schools and stores will be opened for them. As citizens we need to ensure that the services return in time to serve our returning families, not waiting until after land has been expropriated and re-bundled into nice little subdivisions for new developments. My belief is that we need to encourage our diaspora to hold on to their land if they have any family attachment to it because they should also benefit as property values increase with recovery and hopefully their children and grandchildren can come back to us and will call themselves New Orleanians. An effective small renter program would encourage families to rent these properties long-term while paying property taxes and retaining their legal relationship to our fair city.

    “If such cases are only a small percentage of the list, can and will the city make an exception for them?”

    It seems like exceptions are being made all over the place recognizing that everyone is in a different yet the same situation. If someone is making a genuine effort to rehab their property and waiting on the road home I don’t think they’re at risk for expropriation because even at the glacier pace of road home expropriation is slower. I don’t know how to answer the cost/benefit analysis you mentioned earlier except to say that I think it would be helpful if any one agency would establish case workers for people to help navigate the various programs and agencies from a central point, rather than every man for himself as we are doing now. That would hopefully eliminate situations such as you are concerned about.

    Hope this helps, I enjoy your blog!

  • bayoustjohndavid March 30, 2007, 6:24 AM

    People don’t have a lot of faith in the city’s ability to keep its word about promised exceptions.

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