Louisiana is a state rich in cultural heritage and fine architectural traditions hearkening back to the days of its early French residents.
Residential real estate in Louisiana, especially in it Gulf cities like New Orleans, has always been highly desirable because of its cultural heritage as well as its proximity to great Jazz music, annual Mardi Gras celebrations, and life in friendly, traditional neighborhoods.
Yet the wild and unruly Hurricanes Rita and Katrina ripped through the state in 2005, leaving much of the real estate underwater, caved in, or otherwise destroyed. Rebuilding efforts have been slow but they are still moving along.
Soon, the state will get a huge shot in the arm through a grant from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), under the roof of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Under the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, the state is eligible to receive $38 million in recovery funds offered through HUD's Community Development Block Grant.
The money will go towards curbing foreclosures in the hardest hit regions and recreating a stable housing market in Louisiana. The state would receive $34 million to aid troubled residential real estate owners, while both Baton Rouge and New Orleans would get $2 million apiece to help correct the real estate markets there.
With this valuable injection of real estate-targeted funds, the Louisiana government can buy up foreclosed properties that are or may become abandoned and damaged. The state would then redevelop those residential real estate properties and put them up for sale, taking responsibility for the upkeep of them until they find new owners.
Foreclosed homes can often create a myriad of problems for surrounding neighbors, as abandoned properties often invite vagrants, increased crime activity, and falling property values for nearby homes.
The state can also choose to use the grant money to completely demolish existing foreclosed and abandoned real estate buildings or the government officials can put it towards down payment and closing cost assistance for buyers with less than 120 percent of the state or city's median income. This would help make financing available to possible buyers in order to decrease the inventory of foreclosed homes on the market.
As most states around the country have been slammed with rising foreclosures rates due to the housing market crash, a slower economy, and the national credit crunch, HUD has allocated a total of $3.92 billion to be distributed to various states based on their need.
The rate of foreclosure in Louisiana and in Baton Rouge is at 3.9 percent, which is classified as a medium rate, but New Orleans has a 4.4 percent foreclosure rate, a figure that reaches into high territory.
"The housing crisis is one plaguing neighborhoods in states across our country," said U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu. "Here in Louisiana, we have the added challenge of rebuilding properties that have been destroyed by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and more recently Gustav and Ike. Homes in Louisiana have been abandoned because the after effects of hurricane after hurricane have left them uninhabitable. I am pleased that this funding will help us uplift neighborhoods across the state and restore value to struggling properties."