Using City Data to Remove Blighted Properties

Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative

Two people surveying a property
Former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and Birmingham mayor Randall Woodfin examined blighted housing in 2019.


When Mayor Randall Woodfin was elected in 2017, he committed to neighborhood revitalization, setting a goal of demolishing 100 problem properties in 100 days. However, his ambition was slowed by bureaucracy.

He realized he could not reach his goal without measuring how the city was doing, and he asked his team to understand the existing data and identify efficiencies in the demolition process.


Increase in blight removal funding secured from city council

Exploring leadership and management tools and taking advantage of coaching sessions with former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, Mayor Woodfin and his senior leadership team learned how to leverage their existing data to address blight. In addition, his team emphasized collaboration across departments. The city’s neighborhood revitalization team started partnering with the Department of Public Works and using data governance principles to track blighted properties.

As a result of these efforts, the timeline for purchasing vacant properties from the city was reduced from two years to 10 months.

After Mayor Landrieu’s visit, our people said they were feeling inspired that if New Orleans could tackle blight, we could do it too. Ed Fields
Senior Advisor & Chief Strategist, City of Birmingham

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