ST. BERNARD, La. - Gerald Perry has lived in his St. Bernard home for 35 years. But, since Hurricane Katrina, he hasn't had many neighbors.
"My closest neighbor's a half a block either way you go," said Perry.
That's why Perry is happy the parish is developing a plan to sell empty lots, like the ones near his property.
"I'd like to see people back, I'd like to see the community full again. like it was before Katrina," said Perry.
The lots surrounding Perry's house are all Road Home properties, which are marked by neon orange spray painted addresses on the sidewalk. There are roughly 2,000 in St. Bernard. Right now, they're maintained by the state, but the parish is scheduled to take over maintenance June 30th.
Parish officials held two public meetings Saturday as they develop restrictions on how the lots can be used if they're sold.
Parish officials suggested, if the lots don't sell quickly, there may not be money to maintain them long term.
"The biggest challenge is the market, the current market conditions. If we had 3,000 people in line to buy 2,400 lots, we'd probably have an easy problem to solve, but that is not the situation," said Ross Gonzales, executive director of Housing and Development for St. Bernard.
Even though they'll be maintaining the state-owned properties, the parish doesn't necessarily have to take ownership of them. Officials are hoping to hold that off as long as possible.
"Ideally, we'd like to sell all the properties before we ever take possession," said Gonzales.
On top of the vacant Road Home lots, parish officials fear another 2,000 properties could be dumped in their laps from delinquent Road Home option one homeowners.
And some are concerned property values could go down if 2,000 vacant lots go on the market at the same time.
"You do have many home finished or in unfinished states for sale currently, and then you're going to be having this influx of other properties brought on," said Rob Ruffino, a St. Bernard home owner.
Meanwhile, Perry hopes new life comes into the lots on his block soon.
Right now, the lots are held by the Louisiana Land Trust. The non-profit holds properties acquired by the Road Home program. It's possible the state may agree to hold them longer than June 30th.