2020 Front Yard Initiative Homeowner Survey Findings: Executive Summary

New Orleans has a water problem. We get a great deal of rain (over 64 inches/year), and it’s coming with increasingly intense rainfalls. As yet, we haven’t assigned enough places for it to soak in and spread out rather than overwhelming our pumping system.

In 2015, the Urban Conservancy developed the Front Yard Initiative (FYI) to incentivize residential Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) as a complement to stormwater management mandates for large commercial and other redevelopments required by the City in its updated Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. Since then, FYI has incentivized property owners to remove paving to reduce flooding and subsidence by incorporating GSI into their yards to hold water where it falls. We have provided financial assistance (a taxable incentive) to 85 property owners, and technical assistance to thousands more to catalyze the use of GSI on residential properties in New Orleans. 

To date, FYI has provided a total of $85,646 in financial incentives ranging in amounts from $105 to $1250 each, based on square feet of paving removed, resulting in the removal of over 52,000 square feet of paving resulting in approximately 2 million gallons annually being diverted from our pumping systems. These projects have provided $475,000 in economic stimulus to the green sector for goods and services procured. Most projects are a combination of sweat equity and contract labor, keeping average project costs between $5000 and $6000 (although project costs range from $120 to $35,244). This translates into an investment of between $5 and $6 dollars per gallon of storage capacity created. Philanthropic funding sources for the program include the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Wisner Fund, the Southeastern Sustainable Communities Fund, the Azby Fund and the Allianz Foundation. 

We conducted this survey to:

  1. Learn how projects were holding up several years after implementation, both aesthetically and functionally; level of satisfaction homeowners had with their projects overall; the amount of maintenance projects required. 
  2. Learn how participating in this project changed attitudes and behaviors related to green infrastructure. How much did homeowners understand the living with water concept prior to participating, and how much did their participation change their understanding of the concept?
  3. To understand how we can improve the Front Yard Initiative, both in terms of making it more accessible to more people (both homeowners and contractors) and to provide the ongoing resources people need to be good stewards of the projects.


Because we were interested in seeing how FYI projects do over time, Surveys (see Appendix A) were emailed in May to 78 participants.We surveyed only those with established GSI, whose projects had been completed since December 2019 or before. We received 68 completed surveys, representing 86% of all eligible respondents.  We only collect data on those projects  that receive financial incentives as part of FYI; there are countless property owners who install GSI but only receive technical assistance from the UC (e.g. call our technical advisor with questions, attend our workshops, use our Green Sector Directory to find contractors and vendors, or our Homeowner Toolkit to design their project). Those projects are not included here.

Key findings:

The findings have enormous implications for the future of the green sector. For example,

Recommendations for expanding residential GSI in New Orleans:

Next steps for the Front Yard Initiative:

Read the report here >

About the Urban Conservancy: The Urban Conservancy is a non-profit organization leading and collaborating to strengthen New Orleans’ urban environment and local economy through equitable practices, policies and programs. We engage in hands-on programming to alleviate neighborhood flooding and create green sector job opportunities through our Front Yard Initiative. Learn more at urbanconservancy.org/fyi