Habitat for Humanity working on blighted properties
BATON ROUGE - A partnership between Habitat for Humanity and two parish offices could be the beginning of the end to blighted property in Baton Rouge.
A week ago, the East Baton Rouge Redevelopment Authority approved the transfer of ownership of 13 empty lots to Habitat for Humanity. Prior to this, the lots sat vacant for many years because they were held up in adjudication by the city. Adjudicated properties are often impossible to get a clear title for because they belong to the city-parish because taxes on them haven't been paid.
Thanks to a special legislation passed in 2009, the RDA was given the ability to acquire title to adjudicated properties within 120 days. Once the title is cleared the RDA can bring in non-profit home builder organizations like Habitat for Humanity to put the properties back to productive use.
Habitat for Humanity Executive director Lynn Clark said this partnership provides a land-bank that Habitat for Humanity can use to put families into decent homes.
"They clear the title on them, and then we pay the legal fees for clearing the title and then they're transferred to Habitat," said Clark.
A majority of the land given to Habitat for Humanity from the RDA is on Chinn Street in Scotlandville. Volunteers come out on Wednesdays and weekends to help build the houses. Now that Habitat for Humanity and other organizations can build on property that otherwise wouldn't be available for development, it opens the door to restore blighted areas all over Baton Rouge.
"There are close to 6,000 adjudicated properties in Baton Rouge. Our goal is to get titles to all of them. So now,
neighbors don't have to look at a property that's been abandoned, and neglected. It can be a property that's now contributing to the community." said RDA Executive VP, Mark Goodson.
Each home will take about three months to build. Habitat for Humanity has built 11 homes on Chinn Street. With property from the RDA, they will be able to build seven more.
"We believe that uplifting neighborhoods is not just building a house. It's really about building a community," said Clark.