3016 Leonidas St. in Hollygrove was wrapped in caution tape, which seemed to be keeping what remained of the front porch from falling onto the street. More than a year and a half after being judged in compliance with city codes, this house was cited in February 2014 for partial collapse and debris. It was awaiting a hearing as of May. Credit: Charles Maldonado / The Lens
2736 Banks St. in Mid-City appeared on the city's "completed demolition" database in January, but it was still standing when we checked. The house was leaning precariously and it was exposed on the front and side. The city later removed the property from its list.
2736 Banks St. in Mid-City appeared on the city’s “completed demolition” database in January, but it was still standing when we checked. The house was leaning precariously and it was exposed on the front and side. The city later removed the property from its list. Credit: Charles Maldonado / The Lens

The city keeps track of each victory in the war against blight, listing each address on its website. But when we randomly checked those properties, we found trash, high weeds and houses that had supposedly been demolished. A quarter likely violate city code.


  • Of the 300 properties we surveyed, about one in six were eyesores — high weeds, damaged structures or piles of debris and trash.

  • Many more properties where houses had been razed, such 2312 Conti St., had become trash-strewn and overgrown. Based on similar, outstanding cases, they’re likely in violation of city code.

  • Of the city’s list of 128 demolished properties, houses were still standing on four: 2736 Banks St., 835 Belleville St. 4532 Citrus Dr. and 219 Maumus Ave. Three were later removed from the city’s list, but the one on Maumus was still on it as of this month — two years after it had supposedly been demolished.

  • Several vacant homes were unsecured, creating potential hazards for children or haunts for drug users and criminals.

Checking up on city records

  • Demolished

  • Repaired and judged in compliance with city codes

  • Seized and sold at public auction by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office

  • Sold by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority

300: Properties reviewed by The Lens
52: Had obvious, extreme signs of blight

Repeat Offenders

The house at 3016 Leonidas St. was falling apart and covered in caution tape when we surveyed it. Credit: Charles Maldonado / The Lens

4726 Rosalia Dr. was sold by the Sheriff’s Office in 2012, according to city records. Credit: Charles Maldonado / The Lens

Some neighborhoods languish while others flourish

“Certainly the classic example, as everyone is aware, is the Lower 9th Ward,” said Yaukey, who did the blight survey that the Landrieu administration cited when it declared that it had reached the 10,000 property mark.

“Lakeview is shockingly more advanced in its return than even Gentilly, right next door. Just right across City Park, there’s a huge difference.”—UNO geography professor Peter Yaukey

A success story: The former home at 210 Bragg St. was demolished just after Landrieu set his goal in 2010. The property has since been redeveloped and sold. Credit: Charles Maldonado / The Lens

The key to addressing blight: more residents

“I don’t know of any research that indicates code enforcement can affect real estate markets.”—Allison Plyer, The Data Center

City has more options for enforcement

This year, the legislature passed a law, signed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, that allows the city to clear privately owned vacant lots and charge the owners.

How to report blightThe city takes complaints from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Call 311 from a landline within New Orleans, or 504-658-2299 from a mobile phone.

Another bill, which Jindal signed Monday, allows the city to treat litter and sanitation offenses as it does other blight allegations.* House Bill 940 allows the city to issue civil fines, handled in an administrative hearing. Before, they were handled by Municipal Court, which handles state misdemeanors and violations of New Orleans criminal codes.

Residents wait

Charles Maldonado

Charles Maldonado is the editor of The Lens. He previously worked as The Lens' government accountability reporter, covering local politics and criminal justice. Prior to joining The Lens, he worked for...