The average selling prices for homes on the north side of Monroe and adjacent communities have declined about $6 thousand over the past year, Northeast Louisiana Association of Realtors President Deanne Norman told a crowd of about 50 interested citizens and public officials this morning in Monroe. Over the same time period, home prices in the West Monroe area increased by about the same amount, she said. The perception that crime is a serious problem on the east side of the Ouachita River is a contributing factor, she said.
Said Norman, “The perception is ‘where is it safe?'” when clients ask about purchasing a home in the area. Norman said even on Louisville Avenue while shopping in the daytime, one must be on guard against potential threats. “We keep our doors locked (in our office) after a certain time,” she said. “Perception is reality,” she added.
The event was organized by Monroe City Council Chair Ray Armstrong (District 1) in an effort to combat what many see as a property crime wave in Monroe.
Echoing Norman was Rev. Roosevelt Wright, Jr. a prominent South Monroe Pastor and newspaper publisher.
Wright noted that while the Northside was plagued with property crimes, on the Southside the problem was shootings.
Said Wright, “We have to live where somebody’s getting shot. Every week since January, nearly every week there’s been a murder, a shooting, that’s going on on the Southside of Monroe. We’re not talking about somebody breaking into somebody’s house, we’re talking about somebody getting shot, somebody getting killed.”
Wright said he thought a lot of the violent mentality among youths was a result of popular video games that appeal to that age group.
Also, a dearth of youth activities in South Monroe resulted in people turning to gangs as a perverse form of recreation.
Armstrong said he would be pursuing grant money to establish a permanent group to study the issue and make recommendations.
Ouachita Parish Sheriff Jay Russell also spoke and reported on the issue. Russell said about 85% of the crime in the area was drug related.
Armstrong was the only council member at the event.