FLINT (WWJ) – A new report suggests that Flint and Detroit suffer from more blight than New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

According to the report by the Greater New Orleans Data Center, 27 percent of properties in Flint were blighted last year.  That compares to 24 percent in Detroit and 21 percent in New Orleans.

The center tracked the data for five years, looking at the number of blighted addresses, empty lots and vacant but habitable homes.

Senator Virgil Smith, who has sponsored bills to help deal with blight in Detroit, said the huge loss in population has devastated the city.

“Citizens that have the means are leaving, so you’ve got to become more attractive for those that want to become responsible homeowners — and right now, we’re not an attractive city,” said Smith.

Smith’s package of bills now go to the House of Representatives for a vote.

“I am hopeful that my bill package will become law. I think it will go a long way because it will hold folks that are the worst blight offenders accountable for their actions,” he said. “I do think that just chipping away sometimes … I think that is a huge feat for the city of Detroit to be able to turn itself around.”

New Orleans had held the unenviable title of most blighted city every year since 2005 after being ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The city has recently seen a reduction in blighted properties thanks to a much-improved economy and ongoing population growth.

Other badly blighted cities cited by the report were Cleveland, Baltimore and Youngstown, Ohio. (View a copy of the report here).


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