Kelvin Hewitt began pounding nails into his 140-year-old home just weeks after it was battered by Hurricane Katrina.
But he soon realized the city required him to go far beyond basic repairs and restore his one-story shotgun house to the full gingerbread aesthetics of the historic Holy Cross neighborhood -- at a cost of $150,000.
"I want to preserve the house as much as possible so it will be here for another 140 years," he said. "But it really doesn't make too much sense for me to have all the historical features of the house and not have electricity, not have plumbing, not have sheetrock, or plaster on the walls."
Hewitt's home in the Lower 9th Ward is among 16,000 properties in 13 neighborhoods that must be rebuilt according to strict standards established by the New Orleans Historic Districts Landmarks Commission. But the commission's costly requirements have raised questions about whether the rules hurt lower-income property owners.
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