The Lower 9th Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana, has never recovered from the devastation it suffered from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Nearly ten years later, the neighborhood is a washed-out vestige of its former self, speckled with abandoned dwellings and vacant lots. In 2001, the area was home to more than 19,000 residents; in 2010 the population was fewer than 6,000.
Now, state legislators are taking a step some hope will help repopulate the storm-stricken Lower 9th: They're authorizing the state and city agencies to sell abandoned building lots for just $100. The New Orleans Times-Picayune has these reports (see "Lower 9th Ward bill that allows lots to sell for $100 awaits Jindal's signature," and "Jindal signs bill allowing sale of Lower 9th Ward lots for $100," by Richard A. Webster).
"Rep. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans, introduced the proposal in February with the hope that it would spur revitalization of the neighborhood that has languished since Hurricane Katrina," the paper reports. The new law requires New Orleans to sell properties held by the city's Redevelopment Authority for $100 to anyone who meets certain criteria.
Next-door neighbors will get first dibs on the lots. People who have rented in the Lower 9th for 18 months will be next in line, followed by veterans, emergency responders, schoolteachers, and finally, anyone who agrees to keep and maintain the property for five years.
"The bill prohibits developers, corporations and anybody who owns properties with code violations or tax liens attached to them from buying the lots," the paper reports. "It also limits the number of properties an individual can buy to a single lot."