NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— 17 years after Hurricane Katrina and abandoned properties continue to be an issue throughout New Orleans. Now the City Council is planning to fight the blight by strengthening code enforcement regulations.

“We had a win yesterday on Laurel Street. A property that had been sitting blighted for 17 years was demolished,” Councilmember for District B Lesli Harris said.

This week neighbors in the Irish Channel felt victorious when this blighted home on Laurel Street got demolished, but at a “Quality of Life” meeting Councilmembers say more work needs to be done to fight the blight and beef up Code Enforcement regulations to speed up the process.

“You go to an area where 1 out of every 3 properties is blighted,” Councilmember for District D Eugene Green said.

The Director of Code Enforcement Thomas Mulligan says their biggest struggle is staffing issues.

“The biggest problem is we need to staff up,” Mulligan said.

With a staff shortage and dealing with better ways to consolidate complaints, Code Enforcement says the whole process is lengthy. They can only demolish a home fairly quickly if it poses imminent danger. If not they must work with the owners to get it cleaned up and daily fines are given if they don’t. The blighted property can only be put up for auction through the Sheriff’s Office after the homeowner totally neglects orders.

“Then it becomes an internal conversation. Do we try to work with the owner more? Do we demolish? Do we go to Sheriff’s Sale that’s especially when public input is important,” Mulligan said.

Each Councilmember presented the top 10 blighted properties in their Districts. Recognizing the problem is the first step.

“Because if we don’t deal with this cancer then it spreads to the rest of the community and the rest of the city,” Oliver Thomas, Councilmember for District E said.

Code Enforcement relies on funding from HUD and not tax payer money.