Mar 20, 2014|
During Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s 1st term in office he pledged to reduce blighted properties by 10,000. According to analysts, mission accomplished…BUT during Mayor Landrieu’s 2nd term, there’s some 30,000 left to go…and that’s only residential properties. So we cautiously celebrate progress…New Orleans has gone from the MOST blighted city in America to the 3rd most blighted city in America. What are the next steps? Where’s the biggest concentration of blighted property…and how do we get them back into commerce? What about the owners who’ve abandoned property or allowed it to sit blighted since 2005 or 2006, because of family or estate disputes or unpaid taxes? Our guest: Jeff Hebert, Executive Director of NORA (New Orleans Redevelopment Authority) answers the tough questions. For information on upcoming auctions, go to http://www.noraworks.org/.
We're discussing the hot topics of the day with co-host of First Take, Todd Menesses.
Angela discusses the shooting in Lafayette and says farewell to WWL as she hands her timeslot off to Scoot.
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Angela talks with WWL-TV investigative reporter Katie Moore and Tulane law professor Tania Tetlow about the city's backlog of uninvestigated rape cases.
Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)
We are all so wary of looking at blight in our neighborhoods. Rundown abandoned homes existed long before Katrina. But the storm just added to the inventory. That needs to be either cleaned up or eliminate it. There have been some victories. Mayor Landrieu vowed to eliminate 101000 blighted homes in his first term and it appears his accomplishment. Yet it seems to be a never ending process. They are still over 30000. Blighted homes. And that doesn't count the thousands of crumbling non residential properties. That sit in various stages brought. But again there are some positive things happening beginning with the change in how this city is trying to make the blighted yards look better. And at the same time motivate owners to do something. And more properties are going to auction. And that's why we have just a bare head of the New Orleans redevelopment authority. Here to tell us how you can participate. In buying a bargain -- you would agree these are going to be bargained their bargain we love bargains we love bargains. And excuse me okay. I have waited all these months since I started the show. To talk about blight with somebody who really knows about you met and how what the processes. Because. For a long time we did a series every week of a neighborhood team we had fabulous neighborhood people come -- who are very proud of their neighborhoods who were fighting. To get them everything they convene to return them and they had tremendous victories he. But to a person it is the continuation of the blight issue that in the titles in the lights but polite. So for all of us who think we should just be able after low. Eight years of post-Katrina. Hair that puppy down yeah it's not that he's. It's not that easy com thanks for potential for having me on the show I I think it's important for people understand. The conditions that we we work and yes. And it's really important to. To understand also that there -- laws. And there's a way that we can do things based on those laws. And that's what we really work hard to do bomb in Maryland you first took office. And we really set out for the 101000 goal. One of the really important pieces of that was really took in three imagine with the process could be to make it faster and actually to get the result that we want -- on the back and so. One of the big achievements for us on sort of the process side and and and folks who follow this appreciate this but for everybody else. Is we shifted to something called -- foreclosure. Which com note -- or foreclosure which is commonly known as a share sale. But but what that tool did was not just to habit but. At the end of the process win and it's when someone would call and when one of those neighbors that you were just talking about when they were calling and say this is a problem property and the inspector would go out. After an inspector went out the city would have a hearing on that property. Hearing officer would find that private property owner guilty. There was nothing beyond that there was no more stick. Two to really force that property -- to do something with the so we had thousands of properties that had been through. The system. No one was doing anything because there was nothing on the back in to really hold them one more step accountable. So the -- foreclosure process was. Basically that. You would be able to take people to foreclosure the city would foreclose on the liens that it's O in Newton similar way that a banquet for close on a mortgage. And that really got people moving on and so the big to me the big. Highlight. On of all this work over the past four years is that we've been able to move. Private property owners more towards compliance so yes there have been demolitions. Yes we've moved some to developers to do development infill development and in parts of the city. We have the wildly successful lot -- or program which people bought the property next to them included adamant in their property. But even beyond that we brought so many more people to compliance just because of the threat of doing one more step. That that that's really been the turning point where you've seen a lot of a clean up in and a lot of folks coming into compliance. Clean up or. -- let's talk about that -- and go back. So there's a house that's been crumbling it's been like that for six or seven years. And you know who the owner is and you bring an owner to city hall and saying you're guilty because with finding -- guilty and he could just walk away she walk away that's correct. On the leisure talking about -- because they were breaking code and there are fees against that's correct. Or if they haven't paid their taxes were at a separate into the separation pay less taxes are separate issue so -- there the liens and now they've got the threat of all right. You gonna do something or we're gonna take it that's correct and when we take it then we can put it up for the sale you're gonna has. It it's two separate sale to separate so that when that that sale is the core of the code -- foreclosure goes through dish sheriff's auction. And and you know that happens regularly along with all the other for -- that happens at the sheriff's office are the let me. In Europe -- can do -- at the sheriff's office I go win and I raised my hand and I'm by that's one of those foreclosed properties right. But that -- can still come back and get it no. No and -- this is where I've always. I've always heard that -- they pay the back taxes the past -- they can get it against a violent ones in my but bidding on it yet this is separate. Sabathia the other thing that that we wanted to make very. Make very clear early on when we when this started was. The Landry administration. We really wanted to shift from tax sales which is what you're talking about two coldly foreclosure. At the -- -- foreclosure at the active silly get the property. At tax sale. Which is not the best process for actually the acquisition of property. -- folks who've done this no that you actually acquire. And interest in the property but from the taxes. It themselves you you you acquire attacks interest in the property not an interest in the real estate itself. So we wanted to shift people to acquire. In share sales because you actually get the real property at the end of the day. As opposed to which -- talking about is attacks interest with the redemptive period that if somebody comes back they can actually get the property back. So it's it's we've shifted folks -- really to that process because that's the way we actually get the property back out there. Not the tax side which is really taxes. -- tax sales are good for investment. If someone comes back they owe you a percentage on top of what they go into it's a good investment tool to get the tax is paid. But for the real property did the -- foreclosures is is the way to go and we started pushing that back in 2000 late 2002 and early 2011. I'm that there were so shocked people yes. You know I also heard in in some neighborhoods that. One of the reasons everybody was very frustrated why are -- cleaning up their house after Katrina centers and was that it was would have multiple owners and yes there have been bequeathed to Kenya five nephews or something. And it was getting them -- -- is that the case is still the case while it's still very difficult a lot of the properties that we have remaining. Have what what many folks call airship issues. And it's it's very difficult to work through -- com. You know some of the properties that. That at -- Folks -- SOK could you. Possibly patrols that property in and try to put it back out on the market. Many times when we go we can't clear title on those properties because there's so many open. Issues as it relates to folks who. Have a claim to the property and being able find those folks into all the paperwork is very difficult and that's not just for an agency like hours but for. Someone who say in you know in place like the Irish channel or someone like that where. And investor wants to buy a property or family wants -- buy property and rehab and you know part of the issues that they might have been buying a property is that there. Are still these outstanding issues with with a lot of opened -- airs at that that process hasn't taken place in and it makes it difficult to transfer the property. But regardless if it's not meeting standards -- codes guests at some point Q should have the ability to say. We know their multiple -- we know where we fought this. Five years enough already yes I mean it was -- at the process on that code enforcement in the hearings bureau uses its City Hall. He is a notification process of all of those people said the city has to to a two. Really the standards of that the court had set for the city to do that. You have to identify. And notify all those individuals who have a claim in the property. And then move it forward that's the only basis for actually getting the judgments and everything on the back in -- making sure that you -- all those folks on the front and so it's a laborious process up a lot of people have the questions why does this take so long well because of the legal standards that the city has to abide by. Sort of the research side of it being able to research all the people and notify them is a huge huge part. Of the process. And then on the back in. You know -- it's very expensive process of doing all the certified mailings and everything everybody but that's the legal standard that we have to abide by. And that really takes a lot of time in some of these cases with a lot of folks in -- Has there ever been any talk of you know what. We have a lot to talk about and we are talking about some victories and exciting things have happened. If anybody understands people's frustrations it's got to be this man but I've already learned a lot. And I am very grateful we have some caller someone to get to them quickly Gary. -- -- -- What our column what was I have a house next door to me that that's being. Blighted. And it's cat and -- -- You know he'll have a car parked in the backyard on the grass grows. He's going to be able in the backyard anybody knows anything about -- have -- Notice that the travel is you keen on either side and I guarantee you it's your garage in the back. The president debatable. That'll that'll happen is that if our cull the -- people. Or you know -- not have been burned. Some -- envelope he knows some money in there are or what it is but you grow -- move the car at the back pocket front. Actually in the weeds stamp things like debt in minutes OK April law. In this is cat and mouse just keeps going on them all and you know they came out really active in our it will clean out all the -- in the backyard. Graham said the because. Move it wrecked car they had actually true victory in the back sustainable one. Egypt he got -- -- to level. And he would put one little piece of -- in the neck cleared he had good. Well definitely been done in there and inside our house or on the outside. You know after we -- to get high enough in the people c'mon say so in court he knows -- come on out there if you move the car group back for the former. I carry a little let me in Iraq to show and I'm just curious because this is a very good example. To what benefit -- it to the person who owns the property to be playing the game like that you have a non functioning. Property and your certainly even if he has no conscience doesn't care about your neighbor it it's insanity. It is and the -- you don't understand it's overly -- he can sell the place you speak to lead the by redo it. You know in distant -- fact I don't I don't know this is a pact are from when I had a conversation not first bought my house. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- But you know I've already told me he got wrote Omar. But that I don't know assure. It has been a few years. But what can -- -- to get what can he do what can Gary do that he hasn't already attempted to well Gary's been very vigilant. -- it's very clear. It this is one of the issues we have. People game the system. And you know what they'll do is have a notification is sent out. Or if you know and a -- one of the inspector saw something in notification was now he probably got any goes out and he fixes up for the next time. I agree with Gary if he's not gonna live there if he's not gonna fix up the property should just sell is it. In and have fun and is he paying his taxes yeah I mean and what Gary's intimating as Diddy hero comic will never known that but for four. For anybody out there -- I'm sure what why are you letting it run hot. Make it functional salad or let somebody else make it functional -- and and and. When I was saying earlier about folks bringing properties and compliance. Many times. Because of the actions that have been taken by code enforcement folks that action but the properties because they just can't stand. To get yet another -- that they have to pay off because one of the things that I think was was good legislation was. A council member head actually I did legislation that believe in 2011 that in order to pay your taxes you have to pay your -- first. Well that was the news yesterday in particular I think it was councilwoman Cantrell on another on another thing that are made such good sense in other words. In the grass grows time he gets I noticed coach aggressively doesn't do in seven days. You will do it you'll cut the grass that's very normal cut the grass and then -- charge him that are on his taxes how much of that is gonna go -- And in people's taxes are higher and higher and they just need to get rid of it they really need to just put it on the market that the whole point to this is to make it. I hate to say it this -- to that but to make it hurt enough. That someone will put the property on the market and a responsible buyer will buy and take care I appreciate the call Gary and Landry you have a question or comment. Yes I have oil industry British itself is that the bank of their own strength and having your. It's good to outdoor house is that accurate the sole. Nobody -- the credit record in the sort of backed. And so what it was but I'll report though what nobody can now look at him -- to them call and let. What did did it took the. The address all of that I'll end it short it. So nobody but -- it's going to do it get between mr. wonderful. Deadly Baghdad but it technical you know. And what is the name of the street. If so thank avenue. Akron and the Franklin avenue okay yeah. If you wondered whether -- vote. You could -- it was a see that's the heartbreak like there because there are a lot of places like that they were beautiful rooms and it. It -- -- it. -- do you know who the owners are. No you know this you know nobody but -- -- nobody came back and -- here. Atlanta have been calling but. And it did. Nobody could get scared now. -- what I'm I'm right down the addressed. Between 224 Franklin armed. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Is O line is it got pretty -- had been -- Which streets and web blog goes what streets like an avenue Franklin and -- Retreat and drag -- -- on panty okay. And it's a two story orange house with -- -- to a short weren't in good -- you know. Well I appreciate this call is does he -- and believe me he's taking me out at about currently use it you know bankrupt years well you. -- -- -- Well thank you again for calling an an and hopefully able send somebody out there and if nothing else get the grass -- yeah it will it will. It's. Code enforcement -- you know -- it. We will make sure I'll pass this along to the code enforcement inspectors and try to get somebody opted to take care of this but thank you for -- -- -- thank you so much. And that is a perfect example of this new thing where you all want -- if you do know the owner you can send -- cut the grass seven days not then we're gonna start our. Are not doing ourselves -- -- -- back. And then at some point get so high then you'll be able to. Start the process via. Are you giving people hope. It is why do you think we used to being number one implied in this country now -- number three we are getting better. Why do you think we ever were number one. It's a combination of reasons I think that you know we had a bad problem before Katrina yes and and you know what we've all learned. Post-Katrina and and you know helping out with other disasters around the country as. Things that are in place before a hurricane. Are only exacerbated. After hurricane so we had. You know people dispute the numbers are we don't have a final count on what this was but somewhere between let's say 25 and 27000. Blighted properties before country. Then after Katrina it really with the way up. Because the city. -- on. And and as people have been rebuilding which is the biggest contributor to lower that number by the -- is is people re investing in their properties that number has gone down significantly. And then over the past. You know. Four years are really working to get that down even less by 101000 less. And and I think that are are getting the number down decrease by 2000 I think that. We still have it because we've. It's it's a situation. Where. We are cities that experienced tremendous population loss between 1968 and 2004. And we're still reeling from that so what was there in -- that -- in August 28 2005. Was. The product of you know the late 1960s to that time period and now. Katrina just compounded that and now we're trying to get back to solve those problems that had existed here for decades before disinvestment in neighborhoods around the city so. You know it it's and I don't wanna make it sound like this is not a huge problem are huge priority but it's not shocking if you look at cities. Like New Orleans. Places like Cleveland and other places that have had the similar. Population loss that we've had we're all fighting it's it's sort of like a little. Fraternity of us -- that we're actually all friends. Baltimore and New Orleans Pittsburgh Philadelphia we all talked together we all we all sort of trade notes on because we all face the same problem it's it's how to reinvent. Are you know really old historic cities that have faced this population loss and how to -- also. You know many of the creative ideas we've had have come from our colleagues in Baltimore and other places and some of the things with. Rain gardens in neighborhoods in and how do you do pocket parks and all those things are things that we're starting to rollout now. Come from them really thinking about this as well so. It's a problem that we've had for a long time. It's not gonna solve itself overnight but I think we've really focused on it. And that's why we're making and your whittling away yet and and I think the thing of make it tough for people absolutely and we need to do that. I wanna talk about your option because it's it's very exciting it's not this Saturday but next Saturday so that is the 29 didn't. And it will be held at where it's going to be at the convention center. Paul H. Folks it's starts -- eleven but people should show up around 9 AM four pre registration. You have to go and register. I get your card and do all that before you go in and it gets -- packed so we encourage people to go at nine. Com or many properties. It's a 137 properties so it's 86 vacant lots and 51 structures. All over the city. And it if you are interest it which I hope many people are. We've we've sold out of our properties every time we've done it we. Pick them very selectively and in markets that we see are moving. Because we don't wanna waste taxpayer money and their property out there that that you know no one has voiced interest and but we encourage people to -- if you really our interest it to go to our website which is -- works dot org. -- works dot org or that's correct they can go on line the first item there is the list of all the properties. If you want a brochure if you if you really want to appeal the paper and look at that the brochure. The brochures are available in City Hall on the first floor at the welcome desk or at our office which is at 1409. OC Haley boulevard you can get them there. Or -- can go online two Amir bid dot com a MER IB ID dot com slash -- America it is the auctioneer. That we use for this and and that's also on line their so we want people -- there really see what's available the brochures have the pictures of the properties. And and get out and look at it -- and come out it's some great deals people if we get all kinds of emails back and and and from folks who have. Purchase properties redevelop them move their families and they came back home in needed to find a property and folks have bought some of the lots. If they were. Hadn't been able to get it to the lot next door program they purchased the lot and and subdivided into there house and and done some things some beautiful projects in. Lake view and in engine -- With folks on their side you are so it's a great opportunity to. Solve two problems one which is you know these properties need to go back into commerce but. It also to be honest it it takes a tax burden. Off of government because we no longer have to maintain the property right on and and you know you have the benefit of having the property we have the benefit of not having to maintain it. I think what we're hearing is there is progress it is slow. Butcher dogged in trying to help people and even though you're out there in your frustrated don't hesitate to always give them -- -- and keep getting on the list and and fight back to. But I love the fact that some good things such as. The upcoming auction a week from Saturday at the convention center this is a 135 properties from across the city. It as he said it starts at eleven to get there at nine because it's going to be packed. This really is an opportunity to buy. Something special whether it's the just of a -- -- or home you can redo that's correct and in a give life. Back to some of these properties. I didn't wanna say in everything from -- nine gentility holy cross general Aziz saint rock lake view. Look at the website he gave out to them and you'll be able to see the properties or go to the brochure at City Hall on the first floor. -- I think we need to let them know it's a nonrefundable minimum deposit. A 2000 dollar or 10% of the price that's correct. What -- what kind of I love bargains to me which bargains. People have gotten. Oh I mean people have gotten lots. You know as. It's -- is a couple thousand dollars in some places. Some folks have walked away from I walked walked on. You walked home with. House come in in it's sort of you know saint rock area that we know is revitalizing. 420000. Dollars or less. And and what we've gotten back as we do inspections on these as well as you have to agree. To rehabilitate the property or put the property back in the commerce and in one you have one here one year so we actually inspectors go out and and they look at that now compliance rate with that. Is is really high. People but the properties back that they live in them they look great we get all the pictures back. But you know. Where we do see a lot of price spitting. In particular firm watts in. The lake view him and and return to see that -- up also in nine imparted in Philly so you know tickets competitive it's it's really interesting to see. You know one of the ways we can sort of sit back -- -- to the market is just see who who's out there whose interest in these properties and they come in and see what sort of miniature bill bidding wars something some of these properties have but down. Yeah I think people feel like that they've gotten good deals on the properties. In the good deal for the city is that these are -- commerce and I think -- that my latest data shows me that 7677%. Of these people do what they're supposed to do and a year and that's 77% of people buy these properties. Put him back in the commerce within a year. Think this is terrific. We were talking in the commercial that your office also takes care of commercial issues commercial property issues -- -- I did not know that you had worked in concert with the the new whole foods that's right that is a wonderful thing. Yeah I want one of the programs that we have besides auctions in and maintaining properties and that's where things are what we call Ara. Commercial gap financing programs so when we have projects around the city on particular quarter horse. On that we're prove to to work in on that may have a little bit of a gap. To make the financing work in these under invested areas. We have a federally funded program that helps to bridge that gap and get them over the -- in and get the project done so. It in that case I'm sure everybody listening remembers that that was wish wegmans. On broad. And it was bacon and actually blighted there's a -- judgment on their property. Broad community connections which is a local nonprofit in in that area I purchased the property and was trying to put together a package to to get redeveloped we help them being that it was in that condition and and now it's. No longer blight which is what we had a judgment on for years ago but it's now. Not only whole foods but the two lane culinary clinics and going in there and all of these other wonderful things liberties kitchen. So though those are the kinds of things were doing that -- bank schooled on OC Haley boulevard that. Many folks probably remember almost burned to the ground several years ago if you go there today it's under construction should be done this summer -- late late this summer. Com and we just rolled out. A facade improvement program. On that will be targeted for saint Claude avenue OC Haley boulevard and -- you -- right off between esplanade in and -- broad street. And and we wanna work with a small businesses to improve on some of the facades along those court or is on that needs some help. On and this is all sister sort of build you know build the city that we wanna be a city that looks great and down. And so those are some of the commercial things we don't we're trying to play a part where we can. And you know we believe that. The commercial as well as the housing because most of this stuff is happening near where some of these auctions aren't all that then we -- some sort of form a community that's really coming back. -- A message to anybody out there who has a blighted house. Don't live next to it but -- owns it. Be a good citizen. Being good citizens you know it's not fair to neighbors. It's. It doesn't make any sense why -- allowing it when you could be selling it and making money. The week we talked about at the break the marketing or allowances they're real estate market is excellent. And so it. Folks should have every incentive to sell property if you know if you don't want it anymore I mean that the market in. I mean a good majority of the city is in places that many folks thought would never have a hot market on our selling so now's the time. Once again we are talking with just say -- who is head of button or up or New Orleans redevelopment authority in this is the agency that will help with blight SE just said the first up if you're living next door to something that's unconscionable. Call 311 and that's gonna get -- in the in the machine. And and the things in motion. Please give all of the web sites and everything for the upcoming. Auction on March 29 OK so if if your interest it if you want more information. The first step you can go to our website which is www. -- work stock or that's in all our game works dot -- You click the link there that has the information on the auction. If you want more information about the auction itself for if you wanna pre register on line which you can do. You can go to www. A -- bid dot com slash -- that's a MER IB ID dot com slash nor. When we'd look throughout the year for properties to put on the market check our web site. Check our inventory. There's a tool there that will allow you to -- -- pressure interest which is really important for us. I can't thank you enough -- -- -- and and just continue the good work you're doing I know it's a battle but continue continue the good fight thanks very thank you so much.