NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The city demolished two blighted properties in one New Orleans East neighborhood Thursday, a moment neighbors have waited for.
Code enforcement said it has worked aggressively to alleviate the blight problem in New Orleans, but that it takes time. There's a long legal process they have to go through before each property comes down.
Code Enforcement Director Chad Dyer said New Orleans had the largest blight problem in the U.S. in 2010. Since then, they have developed a data-based strategy to reach their goal of reducing blighted properties by 10,000, which was met in 2014. They have currently removed more than 15,000 blighted properties, and inspected more than 118,000.
Part of their strategy is focusing on owners to comply and rehabilitate their properties.
Dyer said they took down the two units in New Orleans East because they were at risk of collapsing.
"Safety is always our paramount concern," he said. "With these demolitions here, these were what are called IDC demolitions, which stands for imminent danger for collapse. The reason that these two, in addition to being such a problem for the neighboring homeowners in the area, they also presented a clear and present safety danger that they could've collapsed and damaged either the neighboring properties or caused a personal injury to a member of the public."
Dyer said the city is focusing on areas of concentrated blight because it's more cost-effective to remove multiple properties at a time.
"By concentrating our efforts here, there's less cost in actually doing the demolitions because there is a cost of moving the giant equipment from place to place to place. The remainder of the properties that are in good condition are in a much better position to either be rehabbed or be sold to other owners," Dyer said.
The two units they removed brings them to the seventh building they have removed on the 7800 block of South Coronet Court.
"I am very relieved and very happy that they are doing it. It's a safety hazard which little children were going in there," said Courtney Nero, who lives next door.
Nero has lived on the 7800 block of South Coronet Court since 1986. She said the two units next to her have caused problems for her since Katrina.
"They had people going in there all hours of the night, staying in there, then they had animals in there. We didn't know if it was going to catch fire because the roof caved in, and we kept trying to get it torn down, and now we finally got it torn down," Nero said.
She has plans to fix up the area.
"My next step, they said I could get the insulation I would have to purchase, so that's fine. I'll purchase that, and then they're going to weatherize the wall for me," Nero said.
She adds that she is thinking of purchasing the lot.
"I'm just happy that they did it, and they're taking care of a lot of blighted properties down the street so it's making it look much better around here," Nero said.