Plan in the works to fight blight in Leland community

Leland community members fight back against blight

BAKER, La. (WAFB) - Baker is a place once known for its rich history and beauty.

Maryette Jackson says she and her husband are constantly working in the yard.

“He stays out here, manicuring and cutting the grass," she said.

Despite those efforts in a neighborhood this homeowner has nurtured for years, neglect has slowly been making its way into some spots of the Leland community.

(Source: WAFB)

“You want folks to come in and say they want to live here too, but you don’t want them to come into a lot of rundown houses,” Jackson said. “With this being right across the street from me, it is kind of a bad thing to walk right out to and look at.”

The City of Baker, in partnership with LaFleur Foundation, has a plan in the works that will hopefully spruce things up for people in the community.

“It’s two separate programs,” said Mayor Darnell Waites. “Blighted properties or houses that want to be redeveloped.”

He says they want to rebuild these neighborhoods and communities, starting with the homes. The funds would come from the Non-Profit Open Cycle Affordable Housing Program.

The city is still in the planning phase, but with help from the Louisiana Housing Corporation, Mayor Waites says they want to either connect homeowners with non-profits that will buy the property and re-imagine the eyesores, or help current homeowners fix up their properties.

(Source: WAFB)

“We’re just going to go from house to house and see what they need and if they want to be a part of the program,” he said.

He says the city doesn’t want to buy a property or condemn a home, so they’re taking a different route. People in the area say it’s about time because they want the old neighborhood back.

“With the grass growing like that you never know what’s in there,” Jackson said. “Take care of that and upkeep some of the properties that have gone down, put a couple of little sidewalks over here to walk, and I think it would be nice neighborhood like it used to be.”

The mayor says the city is still working to pick which blighted properties they’ll tackle first. Since the process is just getting started, the mayor says he’s unsure how much money the city will get for each property.

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