EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:

After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans has had to make uncountable critical decisions to rebuild this city to its former greatness. One issue that has yet to be successfully addressed has been how to repurpose the 35,000-43,000 vacant homes left standing in weak market neighborhoods in the city. The city installed critical rehabilitation programs since Katrina, in attempt to rebuild the neighborhoods that suffered destruction from the storm, many of which contain the blighted properties. Some of these programs include the “Lot Next Door” and ”NORA and LA land trust.” These installments have been successful in restoring strong market neighborhoods and bringing people back into the city. However, the weak market neighborhoods have not taken to this tactic and need a stronger push to become economically beneficial once again. Blight is not a problem unique to New Orleans; many cities across the country have dealt with or are continuing to deal with the effects of blight. Some of the cities analyzed in this policy brief are Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Detroit, Michigan, New York City, New York and Flint, Michigan. In order to restore economic growth, build close-knit community and increase general public health, urban farms must be put in place. Through localization of these farms the economy would be stimulated because the money spent within the community is generated through that same community. Countless jobs would be available as well as a lowered cost of fresh food. In addition, a sense of community would develop amongst the area which would further the efforts to rebuild New Orleans to be even greater than it was before Katrina.

Prepared by:

Daija Smith, Lindsey Mixer, Amber Russell and Jean-Michael Martinod

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

Blight Reduction in N.O. Policy Brief

Comments Off | Permalink »

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

On July 18th, 2013, Detroit, Michigan filed the largest municipal bankruptcy claim in United States history in terms of the city’s population and the size of its debts and liabilities, raising concerns that other major metropolitan areas across the United States might succumb to similar financial distresses.

Characteristics of cities that have filed for municipal bankruptcy in the past five years are not shared with New Orleans, Louisiana. Notable characteristics among economically distressed cities include payments of legacy costs that exceeded the economic capabilities of the municipalities, increased numbers of public employees, decreased tax revenue, loss of jobs to foreign competition, and population fluctuations within the past 50 years.

Since 2005, New Orleans has seen an increase in business start-ups, a population gain, and a massive decrease in unemployment rates. Furthermore, industrial activity in the city is not concentrated in any specific sector, allowing for New Orleans’ economy to thrive even if one sector falls into economic distress. This is in stark contrast with Detroit, whose economy failed after its principal economic sector, the automobile industry, received a $24.9 billion bailout in 2008 from the federal government to avoid complete bankruptcy.

In essence, New Orleans, Louisiana has already economically recovered since Hurricane Katrina. Now, the focus should be to withhold and continue to strengthen the city’s economic stability in future years. To continue to avoid economic decline, New Orleans cannot employ public employees in numbers that are disproportionate to the growth of the city’s population, thus enabling excessive legacy costs in the future that the city will not be able to afford. To avoid legacy costs, the city should favor Defined Contribution (DC) plans, specifically 401K retirement plans, for its public employees rather than traditional multi-year labor contracts, known as Direct Benefit (DB) Plans, that enable legacy costs.

Municipal employees that retire under DC Plans contribute to their pension funds over the course of their employment. Therefore, municipalities will contribute less to the pensions of their employees, thus reducing legacy costs and ultimately reducing potential financial distress.

Prepared by:

Elisa Diaz, Cailyn Flynn, Alfred Jackson and Michael Pashkevich

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

Bankruptcy Policy Brief

Comments Off | Permalink »

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Entergy Corporation provides electricity to approximately 2.7 million customers, and has seven locations in Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. After Hurricane Rita and Katrina, the Entergy system in Louisiana was responsible for 670,000 power outages in the Louisiana and Mississippi area.

Problem: The Entergy system needs be hardened and become more resilient when a large-scale storm strikes. The US Department of Energy defines hardening as physically changing the infrastructure to make it less susceptible to damage from extreme wind, flooding, or flying debris. Resiliency is defined as the ability of an energy facility to recover quickly from damage to any of its components or to any of the external systems on which it depends.

After comparing Louisiana to other states, we recommend that the Entergy Corporation implement undergrounding, vegetation management, increased modernization, and general readiness.

Prepared by:

Marika Ball-Damberg, Olivia Hayes, Fatimata Dia and Edwin Unzalu

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

Entergy Policy Brief

Comments Off | Permalink »

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Blighted and vacant properties in New Orleans are a prevalent problem

that have had negative effects on the city. Blighted properties lower property value, are hazardous to health of neighboring residents, decrease the aesthetic of the neighborhood, and create weak market neighborhoods. The amalgamation of different factors has made blight a prominent issue in the city, namely the disarray caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However, New Orleans shares some causes with other cities as well such as mortgage foreclosures and owners who neglect property taxes and other payments for the property. Various New Orleans authorities have proposed solutions to blighted properties such as urban farms, regulating storm water runoff, creation of land banks, or the demolition of the property. New Orleans has executed a few different solutions to ameliorate blight such as government laws like expropriation, code enforcement, and tax adjudication as well as setting up organizations like the New Orleans Recovery Authority (NORA) and the Louisiana Recovery Authority (LRA). One of the most lucid ways to ascertain New Orleans’ progress in decreasing blight is by comparing it to other cities. Collating information from New Orleans and similar cities that deal with this problem will provide a succinct barometer of where New Orleans stands. The most popular way other cities have diminished blight is by means of land banking systems that oversee and manage vacant properties in the city. These systems increase accountability for blighted properties and, in the long-term, can stimulate growth in the city by generating new businesses. In the end, New Orleans needs to implement a long-term plan that makes the city accountable for the amount of blight contained in certain areas. Establishing a land banking system in New Orleans will make this goal attainable. Over time, land banks will be extremely beneficial to the city.

Prepared by:

Julion Laborde, Jackie Sands, Dmitri Shutufinsky and Maci Bates

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

Combating Blight in N.O. Policy Brief

 

Comments Off | Permalink »

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In the state of Louisiana, the code for self-defense is written as such that an individual has the right to use lethal or otherwise force to protect him- or herself from an aggressor without the obliged duty to retreat. The resulting issue of this law is that, according to the FBI, there has been in increase in justifiable homicides in the years since stand-your-ground has taken effect, which has a possible justification that the law has been used accommodate those who in all reality should not be able to legitimately claim self-defense. Scholarly research about the subject has revealed that stand-your-ground laws in multiple states do nothing to reduce the number of violent crimes and, in addition, present a racial bias in court rulings. Other states who have stand-your-ground in effect show similar results, whereas states with a duty-to-retreat policy have lower violent crime rates and more racially equal rulings, where cases will not be skewed against African-American defendants. Because of these factors, this brief suggests that the state of Louisiana adopt a duty-to-retreat policy that mandates the exhaustion of all non-lethal escape routes before the last resort to deadly force for one’s own protection.

Prepared by:

Naasha Dotiwala, Sam Sergi and Nicholas Weirath

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns 

Stand Your Groud Policy Brief

Comments Off | Permalink »

Improvement of Hurricane Evacuation Policy Brief 1011-05

Prepared by:

  • Ranmali DeSilva

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

In the 2005 tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, 1,500 New Orleans residents died as a result of confinement within the city during the Category 3 hurricane. This death toll stems from poor planning and implementation of hurricane evacuation protocols. During Hurricane Katrina, 40% of New Orleans residents did not leave the city. The factors that contributed to the city’s failure to evacuate all of its residents include residents’ lack of information regarding emergency evacuation procedures, the untimely mandate of an emergency evacuation, the absence of public transportation options for residents with special needs, poorly prepared evacuation routes, and the city’s overall lack of planning and preparation for emergency response.

Based upon the remedial tactics utilized in Florida and Alabama to ameliorate similar preparedness issues, the recommendations for improvement of evacuation practices in New Orleans include the provision of monthly information regarding emergency evacuation procedures to residents, an increase in modes of public transportation, a transportation registry for those in need in the event of an emergency evacuation, correspondence between RTA and emergency response planners, the creation of an entity that is solely responsible for the research and development of an effective evacuation plan, and the re-implementation of the Hurricane Pam exercise.

Improvement of Hurricane Evacuation

Comments Off | Permalink »

Homelessness Policy Brief 1011-04

Prepared by:

  • Kelsey McGill
  • Jonathan Cepalak
  • Caleb Gallops
  • Alexa Moulakis

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

New Orleans has a 4% homeless rate, the highest in the nation. A severe lack of affordable housing, particularly post hurricane Katrina, has perpetuated this staggering percentage. Other cities similar to New Orleans have implemented various policies to alleviate their challenges with homelessness.

Birmingham, Alabama established a method of counseling for those without shelter. Jackson, Mississippi implemented a 10 year plan which plans to combine increased housing, counseling for the homeless, as well as surveying areas for homeless people.  Atlanta implemented the HUD’s recommended Continuum of Care program and has seen an exponential decrease in homelessness. Because of these programs, levels of homelessness have decreased in all three cities, and more affordable housing has emerged.

Because of similar demographics in Atlanta, the best plan to implement in New Orleans would be the Continuum of Care program. So far, the plan has been a success in Atlanta with an increase in affordable housing, better access to public services specifically intended to assist the homeless, and a better awareness around the city of the causes and effects of homelessness.

Homelessness Policy Brief

Comments Off | Permalink »

March 28, 2011

Sustainability Policies Policy Brief 1011-01

Prepared by:

  • Marylee Clayton
  • Olivia Fales
  • Michael Ikossi
  • Kamaria Monmouth

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

New Orleans must improve the programs and laws that encourage sustainability. While the development of the New Orleans Master Plan has outlined long-term actions and goals, the city must take action immediately to improve its greenhouse gas emittance. Greenhouse gases are produced in nearly every sector of daily life. Energy efficient buildings, solid waste diversion, and the cultivation of local agriculture will decrease the amount of greenhouse gases produced by the city. Using the methods of cities like Atlanta, Georgia, Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C. will allow New Orleans to drastically advance its sustainable practices.

Sustainability Policy Brief 10-11-01

Comments Off | Permalink »

Saving Money for the Recovery School District Policy Brief 0910-02

18 August 10

Prepared by:

  • Megan Cindrich
  • Molly Katz
  • Josh Mitchell

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter F. Burns

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Recovery School District (RSD) is faced with an immense challenge of rebuilding and restructuring schools placed in its control. Monetarily, the RSD cannot handle this responsibility, but the RSD can explore several of the following paths to increase its resources. In addition, this policy brief explores how other states offer tax credits and benefits that can increase school district resources.

The RSD needs to look into obtaining Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits to aid rebuilding projects throughout the city. Because of their age, multiple school buildings located in the RSD would qualify for the 20% tax credit if the FHRTC accepted schools into the list of eligible properties. If the 20% tax credit is not an option, then the RSD can apply for a 10% tax credit for reconstruction.

New Market Tax Credits are aimed directly at projects that create jobs and new economic opportunities for residents. The competition for these credits is intense. Following the guidelines of energy reduction set by the federal government, the RSD can easily receive Energy Efficient Commercial Building Deductions and save money within the rebuilding process.

Download the full policy brief recovery-school-district-saving-money

Comments Off | Permalink »

Blight Busting Strategies Policy Brief 0910-01

20 July 10

Prepared by:

  • Joseph Billiot
  • Huntleigh Gilbard
  • Megan Irving

This report was written by undergraduate students at Loyola University New Orleans under the direction of Professor Peter. F. Burns.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Blight is an official legal designation for properties that are vacant, uninhabitable, and hazardous. Blighted properties bring down property values, decrease the quality of life, and keep neighbors from returning. The blight problem that is epidemic in the city of New Orleans affects all aspects of society. Mayor Mitch Landrieu inherited the most blighted city in America, along with a citizenry desperate for change. Any realistic plan to completely restore New Orleans must address and resolve the complicated issue of blight.

Long-term neglect and extensive urban sprawl combine with more recent events, in particular Hurricane Katrina and Kelo vs. City of New London, to compound the dire effects of blight on New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina was an unprecedented disaster and the city government must assemble unprecedented strategies to see a redeveloped New Orleans. Legal avenues now closed by conservative eminent domain policies, created in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Kelo vs. City of New London, must be explored and possibly reopened.

Other cities such as Flint, Michigan, Cleveland, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia, combat the implement proactive policies, such as the utilization of land banks, to combat blight. Land banks allow cities to achieve control of vacant or adjudicated property in order to return property to productive use. Cities like Baltimore, Maryland and Atlanta manage vacant land and boost economic development within the city by offering land parcels coupled with tax incentives and waivers to private developers. The sale of vacant property to community organizations and developers is another way in which abandoned land is used productively. These developers, such as those in Baltimore and Cleveland, then use the previously vacant land for projects that benefit the community or neighborhoods. As state governments across the country react to the Kelo decision, the subsequent legislative changes will significantly alter the way policy analysts, lawyers, and politicians approach the issues of property rights and eminent domain.

New Orleans must institute strategic, long-term policies that reinvest in the community and focus on the specific needs of neighborhoods. Effective blight reduction strategies require that city and state governmental agencies learn to cooperate in both the political and legal realms. Comparative analysis of other cities illustrates that New Orleans could more expediently reduce its blight by adopting reinvestment policies and creating intergovernmental alliances.

If not addressed, blight and insufficient housing reconstruction will stall community-level recovery in New Orleans. Other cities reduce blight through the acquisition of vacant land. They transform unproductive properties into thriving facets of the community. New Orleans can continue to alleviate itself of blight if it adopts similar strategies.

Download the full policy brief (PDF) »

Comments Off | Permalink »