Palmer: We must reduce blight, create affordable housing with incentives for homeownership, and amend the Short Term Rental Ordinance. New Orleans still has roughly 35,000 vacant and blighted houses. When I served on the City Council from 2010 - 2014, I made blight reduction a major focus of my tenure. I created the Algiers Blight Committee, which met monthly with all relevant city agencies including community members. We worked through a list of the most egregious situations of blight. The committee successfully dealt with over 500 units. If elected, I would seek to re-establish this committee. I also extended the Lot Next Door Program making vacant lots available to surrounding neighbors who were not eligible under the original program. Moreover, I asked for and won a set-aside allocation of $52 million of disaster CDBG for soft second money. This allowed access to funds for first time homebuyers to help with down payments and closing costs. The program was widely successful and utilized the entirety of the allocation. I believe homeownership is the best way to accumulate wealth and gain economic equity. In office, I will advocate for similar programs for first time homebuyers, making homeownership more affordable throughout New Orleans. Additionally, I will back special incentives for first time buyers to purchase NORA properties to get these houses back into commerce. STRs are currently banned in the French Quarter. However, the Marigny, Bywater, St. Roch and Treme are over-saturated since the French Quarter moratorium went into effect. Residents complain of feeling like they live in a residential hotel, businesses struggle to stay open without a local customer base, and an exodus of permanent neighbors means opportunities for crime to flourish unseen. Furthermore, remaining residents are now being subject to exorbitant rises in property taxes. A “one-size-fits-all” policy is impractical for the diverse neighborhoods of New Orleans. I’m in favor of neighborhoods self-determining the limits of STRs, encouraging homestead exemption STRs, and capping and regulating whole-home rentals the same as existing commercial properties. Essentially, they should be treated as commercial endeavours and follow the zoning laws as such.