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Growing Home New Orleans

Five years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans still houses to up to 70,000 vacant lots. Two years ago, however, the city put a plan into place to help residents revive their neighborhoods. The resulting Lot Next Door program, created by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NORA), offers homeowners the first right of refusal to purchase the vacant lots next to their own. What seals the deal for many is the opportunity to receive $10,000 off of the purchasing price if the buyer agrees to make basic landscape improvements--from building a fence to planting trees to installing rain gardens--through a subprogram known as Growing Home.

Run by Abigail Feldman, a landscape designer and founder of New Orleans-based firm Heavy Meadow, Growing Home works with each interested Lot Next Door property owner to develop a landscaping scheme, put a plan in place, and confirm that the work has been done so each participant receives the $10,000 discount on the purchasing price. Shown here is the blighted property next to Addison and Yolanda Penn's home in the upper 9th Ward that they bought from NORA.

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