NEW ORLEANS -- Hundreds of Lower Ninth Ward properties are inching closer to the $100 price tag.
The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority -- better known as NORA -- just released a list of addresses under a program passed by state lawmakers. It still needs Louisiana voter approval.
“This house here has been abandoned since Katrina. They tore this house down about a month ago with the furniture and everything still in it,” said Lower Ninth Ward resident Andrew Baker Junior.
On a quiet stretch of Tennessee Street, neighbors know neighbor and the histories of the homes that once stood on the empty lots dotting this neighborhood.
Baker returned and rebuilt after the storm, recently hearing about a program to bring more families to the place he has called home for 47 years.
“It’s going to be good for people who are first-time home buyers trying to buy land for development, if they don’t let outside people come in and buy lots up that doesn’t live here, or developers that get it for nothing,” said Baker.
A bill recently passed by state lawmakers would allow NORA to sell lots it owns at $100 a piece. The program is the vision of state Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, who has represented the Lower Ninth Ward for two and a half years.
“When I look at it, it looks the same way now as it did, in many instances, right after Hurricane Katrina. So I thought we had to do something unconventional because we had an unconventional problem,” said Bishop.
Safe guards are in place to make sure long-term residents benefit. First priority will go to people living next door; then to individuals renting in the Lower Ninth for at least 18 months; next in line are veterans, emergency responders, teachers and former teachers.
Under the legislation, anyone who buys one of the 602 lots has to keep, maintain and build a home on it. The requirements mandate properties be lived on for at least 5 years.
Bishop hopes the program will help speed up redevelopment in a part of the city that is still visibly struggling to bounce back from Katrina.
“When I talk to folks at Walmart at Target at other places, trying to get businesses, banks, different type of restaurants in the Lower Ninth Ward: one of the things I’m hearing is there just aren’t enough people there to support those kinds of businesses,” said Bishop.
With one of the newest attempts at revitalizing the Lower Ninth Ward now in the hands of voters, one homeowner hopes it will empower other families to build, move and stay on his block.
“Why would you want to rent when you can buy something and build? You feel good about yourself owning things. That’s how I see life. That’s a good idea. I mean, very good one,” Baker said.
Bishop said similar programs have worked in Harlem, Baltimore and Detroit.
Voters across the state will decide on the Lower Ninth Ward measure on Nov. 4th.