10 Years Later: Fighting Blight in New Orleans after Katrina

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) -- Nearly 10 years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still experiencing growing pains.  Wednesday, a City Council Community Development Committee met to address the ongoing fight against blight.  This comes a day after a survey by the University of New Orleans details the city's rebuilding effort.  WGNO reporter Deepak Saini looks at how far we've come.

Today a child plays basketball in the same spot that was nearly wiped away 10 years ago.

"This area was totally under water," says Bobbie Roy Jr.

Bobbie Roy Jr. has lived in Gentilly for 30 years.  He raised his home after the storm and over time, has watched his neighborhood grow.

"The houses coming up, Rouses, Chinese restaurants. Things are coming back. Kind of gives you a feel that it's almost what it used to be back before Katrina," says Roy Jr.

The house across the street from Bobby is blighted property that's undergoing renovation.  According to a University of New Orleans survey, 81% of Katrina damaged homes in Orleans and St. Bernard Parishes have been completely rebuilt or are in the beginning stages.

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"From a long-term perspective, I might of hoped we would be further along after 10 years but on the other hand I think it's really encouraging to see we're still improving, we're still moving in that direction," says Dr. Peter Yaukey.

Dr. Peter Yaukey and his team have been tracking the progress of more than 2,000 flooded homes since 2006.  Their latest research shows the highest number of renovated homes are in Gentilly and New Orleans East.

Wednesday, the New Orleans City Council's Community Development Committee received updates from several city departments on clearing up blight.

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"We started in St. Roch, moved into Central City, then Hollygrove, Little Woods and halfway through Berhman-Algiers at the moment," says Liana Elliott, a Lot Maintenance Program Manager with the City.

This year, the city's goal is to target 1,200 blighted properties.  So far, they've already reached 657 and they're using UNO's recent data as they move forward.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration issued this statement:

"This report recognizes the continued progress the city has made in reducing blighted and vacant property, but we still have work to do. Our goal has always been to make home ownership available to more families and to put these properties back into commerce in a way that strengthens neighborhoods and our local economy."

While some areas still have a long way to go, the city is booming back and progress can be seen all around.

"The medical development, the general progressive mindset, the optimistic mindset in the city is encouraging, all the fresh blood here, the new talent. The creative ways of thinking. I'm sure that's helping to attract people to the city and help us in our recovery," says Dr. Yaukey.

The Mayor's office says in 2014, the city did more than 15,000 blight inspections and held more than 4,000 hearings on the issue.