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Dear Ms. Head

Here’s an excerpt from an e-mail I just sent to my City Council Representative, Stacy Head, addressing three problems in my neighborhood:

There is a small grocery at the corner of Lopez and Bienville which has not been touched since the storm. It is overrun by large rats and is an immediate threat to public health, with families living next door. I’ve alerted Claudia Riegel of the Termite and Mosquito Control Board, and they’ve set traps in the area, but they can’t go in the building. I believe they alerted the health department. I just wanted to make you aware of the situation which I believe needs to be addressed as quickly as possible.

Garbage and debris continues to be a problem. On the 3100 block of Iberville, for example, residents were piling household garbage on the sidewalk without bagging it. The pile became quite large and of course Waste Management wouldn’t pick it up. Finally the garbage was separated from larger debris and properly bagged. The result is two large piles of garbage which continue to be a nuisance and a health hazard.


The garbage is not picked up by WM because it is not in front of a residence but a vacant lot. A resident (Gwen Jones) has called various city officials over the past week and has gotten repeated assurances that the problem will be addressed, but so far, it has not. I called the city myself today; they took the information from me and gave me a tracking number (67900) so we hope this will be dealt with now. I hasten to emphasize that this story is repeated on many of the surrounding side streets. Again, we just wanted to make you aware of the situation. WM’s regular Thursday pickup of household garbage (properly bagged) has improved a great deal over the last few weeks.

Finally, the most difficult problem of all: absentee landlords. Roughly 50% of the properties in my immediate area of Mid-City are standing vacant, most having been gutted but not currently habitable. However, a number of landlords have fixed up their places. Unfortunately most of these rental units have been repaired “off the books,” without permits, without inspections, and as a result are somewhat below the standard of habitability. Nevertheless they are being rented out at double the pre-Katrina rate. Directly across the street from me tenants have been living without electricity for weeks. Around the corner a family is living without gas and therefore without hot water. It seems clear to me that these landlords are taking advantage of a very vulnerable population: mostly these are the working poor, many of them are Spanish-speaking and some may be here illegally. It is not realistic to expect these tenants to take legal action against their landlords. I don’t wish to make the situation worse for my neighbors, but I also don’t wish to live in a slum zone. How can we hold these landlords to a higher standard?

Published inLettersNeighbors


  1. Ray Ray

    I was driving around in that neighborhood the other day and I was struck by the same thing. Lots of houses that look kinda sorta not quite done yet, and lots of Hispanic faces looking out of their doorways at me.

  2. An excerpt from Ms. Head’s Response:

    “We will report the garbage to the City’s trash task force. If there are problems with trash pick-up, please call sanitation and that department will make Waste Management resolve the problem.

    “As to the property use/landlord issues, you need to identify the street addresses of the problems with a description of the problems. If there was work done without a permit, the city can require that it be removed. If there are habitation violations, the city can close the property.”

  3. rickngentilly rickngentilly

    i wish that ms. morrel was even worth the effort of contacting……. at least you have a shot with your councel person.

    i need a sewerage and water board truck to suck the basin of the storm drain in front of my house bad, ………but there aint no way its happening.

    one hard rain and the water is coming towards and maybe into my house.

    last year i rode out cindy and the water was no big deal.

    if it happens this year i am fucked.

    i went out to clean the catch today and realized that after i had cleared all the shit the contracters from next door had left in front of it the basin was still clogged.

    do you know any renegade vacume truck pirate type cats?

  4. Karen Karen

    My storm drain collapsed after a bobcat rolled over it in Oct. My husband and I propped it up and it worked..ok..then in Feb. a huge truck rolled over it and it completely caved in. I called Sewerage and Water and they said..whatever

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