NEW ORLEANS -- Vacant lots and blighted properties can be seen across New Orleans. Now, the city is starting a new process to unload properties that have not been sold in other auctions.
The city and civicsource held a presentation Tuesday evening, informing potential buyers about a new auction on 185 adjudicated properties, properties turned over to the government because property taxes have not been paid.
"What civic source has been able to do is clear the titles and allow these properties to be sold with a clear title and title insurance on behalf of the city," Stephen Morel, Chief Legal Officer with CivicSource said.
Valeria Schexnayder moved back to the Lower 9th Ward months after Hurricane Katrina. Since the storm, she says there's been very little progress cleaning up vacant properties.
"This is a real jungle! A forest," Schexnayder said. "This is what you call ground zero back here. With all this grass and mosquitoes and snakes."
Schexnayder says the city's plan to help auction off and sell these properties sounds promising, but she still has concerns.
"If they're going to do this, they're going to need to make sure it's a legal contract. You know, you have to keep it up and you have to send code enforcement out to check it. So they are not on their job down at city hall with all this here," Schexnayder said.
CivicSource says interested property owners will have to place an $850 deposit down at civicsource.com. Once legal compliance work is completed, nominated properties will be scheduled for the next available auction, which takes place online the first Wednesday of each month. It's a move officials say is long overdue.
"These properties didn't just go delinquent yesterday. These are years and years after they've been delinquent. They were offered up for tax sale. They didn't sell and they've been sitting on the books for a long time. Not only that, but once civicsource gets our hands on it, what we do is attempt to find all those people and provide them with their legal rights to come in and pay," Morel said.
Joe Spears attended the session and lives in Broadmoor.
"There's a lot next door to my house that I've been trying to purchase for over 12 years now, but for whatever reason, the city has not decided to put it on the book," Spears said.
While Spears believes this auction is a great first step, he wishes the city could do more to either hold current owners accountable or make it easier for potential buyers.
"I'm just looking for some justice. A little bang for my buck," Spears said.
Current owners of the adjudicated properties will be notified as the auction draws near so they can choose to pay taxes and fees owed on a property to cancel the sale.
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