Lens Investigation: Can the city take credit for fixing 10,000 b - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Lens Investigation: Can the city take credit for fixing 10,000 blighted properties?

Updated:
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

Earlier this year, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the city had surpassed one of its most ambitious goals of eliminating 10,000 blighted properties by 2014.

City administrators, however, can't say where those 10,000 properties are located.

FOX 8 took a deeper look at the city's blight strategy and the mayor's declaration of success in a joint investigation with The Lens.

City Hall vowed to answer cries of neglect back on Nov. 1, 2010 by setting a goal of dealing with 10,000 blighted properties in three years.

Back then, Blight Policy Director Jeff Hebert laid out specific numbers to the council Budget Committee: "Of blighted structures, we've been moving to 100 a month. Number two, nuisance abatement in neighborhoods - or better known as grass-cutting - moving to 1,500 in 2011. Number three, streamlining code enforcement to 1,600 inspections per month," Hebert said.

According to the city website, "During monthly BlightSTAT meetings, City leaders and managers review performance results related to Mayor Landrieu's strategy to reduce blighted units by 10,000 by the end of 2014."

BlightSTAT is a monthly report by the New Orleans office of performance and accountability. In January 2014, the mayor's office declared victory, saying that it had reached its 10,000-property goal.

But did they?

According to The Lens, BlightSTAT data shows that by January, fewer than 7,200 unique blighted properties had been remediated through city intervention since the city's announcement in 2010.

However, the mayor's office didn't use BlightSTAT's data when declaring victory on the 10,000-property promise. Instead, the city based Landrieu's announcement on a study by University of New Orleans geography professor Peter Yaukey.

"If you apply this to the USPS initial estimate of 43,755 blighted addresses, that produces an estimate of blight reduction of between 10,328 and 14,591 compared to the goal of 10,000," Yaukey said during a press conference on Jan. 9, 2014.

That analysis, done at the city's request, was based on a survey of certain neighborhoods in the city. Yaukey told our partners at The Lens that the estimated 10,000-plus properties are not just those that were fixed up because the city got directly involved.

New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Andy Kopplin told The Lens that the city initiative to strengthen the real-estate market and spur private investment "is a city action, just as taking a house to sheriff's sale or demolition is."

Kopplin said those initiatives "lead to the reduction of blight."

So the answer to whether the city hit its goal depends on which remediated properties the city deserves credit for.

"The fact remains is that that encompasses a lot of private marketing activity, other things the city was not responsible for in terms of actual blight interventions," said Justin Kray, lead project manager on BlightSTAT from 2011 to 2012. "I think that the 10,000 is not something the city can claim ownership over."

City administrators sent this statement from CAO Andrew Kopplin:

"The City has helped to aggressively reduce the blight count in New Orleans by more than 10,000 units since 2010, as reported and validated by an independent distinguished researcher from the University of New Orleans. No matter how you slice it, this community-wide effort is allowing us to fix up or tear down blight faster than anywhere else in the country."

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow

Fox 8 WVUE-TV
Louisiana Media Company, LLC.
1025 S. Jefferson Davis Parkway
New Orleans, LA 70125

General Number: (504) 486-6161
News Tips: (504) 483-1503
News Room Fax: (504) 483-1543

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WVUE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
WVUE's Public Inspection File can now be accessed online. To access the online public inspection file click here: https://stations.fcc.gov/station-profile/wvue-dt.