LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - Lafayette city-parish government has condemned about three abandoned and dilapidated homes a month over the past year under a new initiative dubbed "Operation Blight Out."
The condemnation process, which must be approved by the City-Parish Council, clears the way for a house to be demolished.
Since Jan. 1, 27 homes have been condemned, and another 22 homes are targeted for possible condemnation if the owners don't fix or demolish the structures themselves.
Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux tells The Advocate (http://bit.ly/TJZShA ) abandoned houses are a critical problem in some areas of the city, posing a safety hazard as well as attracting transients or illicit activity.
Boudreaux said one the benefits of aggressively pursuing condemnation of abandoned homes is that it has prompted property owners to take care of the problems themselves.
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Residents in Lafayette Parish have expressed concern about dilapidated properties in their neighborhoods.
"You don't know who that is back there. You don't know if they're coming to rob you," says resident Trent Bernard.
Trent Bernard and Adam Robinson are friends. Robinson's home sits next to this property on S. Sterlington Street. "I called and told them about that once or twice. They said they will do something about it, but they never did anything about it yet. That's been over a year," says Robinson.
His friend Trent feels the same. Neglected property is both an eyesore and a haven for dangerous activity. "Like he said people come back there, they're doing drugs. They come sleep there. They had a few of them. I see them sleeping in the house," says Trent.
Housing code enforcer Randy Viator says consolidated government has a project called "Operation Blight Out." Viator says LCG councilman Kenneth Boudreaux is a major force behind it. "We're going to have between 24 and 30 condemnations. Demolitions, we'll have about 50 this coming year," adds Viator.
For councilman Boudreaux that's good news. Dilapidated property is a problem that needs to be dealt with. "It's about a quality of life. It's about how we want our communities to look. It's all about consideration for our neighbors and neighborhoods. When you see some of these properties; who wants to live next to that," says Boudreaux.
Viator says there's demolition assistance for homeowners. The program is offered through the Department of Community Development.