With an estimated 35,000 abandoned properties, blight is a prevalent problem in New Orleans, exacerbated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A new website, launched by the City of New Orleans and the nonprofit group Code For America, aims to provide citizens with information regarding blighted properties in their area.
Blighted properties are a visual eyesore and have a depressing effect on neighborhoods. The presence of just one blighted property on an average residential block can reduce the value of neighboring homes by up to $7,000 each. For concerned residents, finding information on the status of the property and the owner can be an overwhelming task requiring inquiries with many city agencies.
BlightStatus.nola.gov provides user-friendly access to information about abandoned properties. Through an easy to use web design and multiple search functions, New Orleanians can learn more about the blight process and review urban decay at the citywide, street or block level. Interactive maps display the address and most recent activity for pinpointed properties.
Citizens can also explore blighted properties in depth, viewing the case history of a property, going through the code enforcement process all the way from the filing of a case to inspection, judgment and sheriff sale. For those who wish to track blight, perhaps in their specific neighborhood, properties can be added to a watchlist with email alerts for any updates to the property’s status in the code enforcement process.
All of these online tools help citizens, community groups, and city staff to understand the issue of blight in New Orleans with more clarity. This access to information may make it easier for neighborhood groups to effectively organize and help city officials allocate resources and make decisions. BlightStatus utilizes open source software, meaning it can be edited by anyone and used by other cities seeking to better represent information about blight to implement remedies that improve their communities.
What other uses do you see for the information provided by BlightStatus?
Credits: Photos by Jessica Yoon. Data linked to sources.