This is our twice-monthly round-up of news stories covering challenges related to vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties — and how communities are transforming these properties into assets. (The headlines are for informational purposes only; inclusion does not indicate endorsement.) If you’d like to get this round-up in your inbox, join our email list!
The neighborhood is mostly black. The home buyers are mostly white. “But since 2000, according to an analysis of demographic and housing data, the arrival of white residents is now changing nonwhite communities in cities of all sizes, affecting about one in six predominantly African-American census tracts. The pattern, though still modest in scope, is playing out with remarkable consistency across the country — in ways that jolt the mortgage market, the architecture, the value of land itself.” Emily Badger, Quoctrung Bui, and Robert Gebeloff | The New York Times | April 27, 2019
Rent control policies gaining momentum across America“A long-held economic theory about rent control is that the approach actually hurts affordability over the long term by constricting supply, for example by incentivizing landlords to convert rental units into condos. Across the United States, there’s evidence that the economic arguments against rent control are no longer as compelling to as many people as they once were.” Jared Brey | Next City | April 16, 2019
From gentrification to decline: How neighborhoods really change “The biggest takeaway: The most common type of change in the U.S. over the last two decades has been poverty concentration—and it affects low-income Americans, in particular. As of 2016, there is “no metropolitan region in the nation where a low-income person was more likely to live in an economically expanding neighborhood than an economically declining neighborhood,” the report reads.” Tanvi Misra | CityLab | April 10, 2019
No more loopholes: SF landlords must now register vacant properties“The idea of the ordinance is to provide the city with a full picture of how many vacant storefronts exist. While the Department of Building Inspection already requires landlords to register empty properties, that database does not show a full picture because it is complaint-driven and self-reported.” Trisha Thadani | San Francisco Chronicle | April 22, 2019
District of Columbia
D.C. plans to accelerate process for rental housing inspections, starting in May“The agency said it had analyzed data over the last three years and learned that only about 3,400 rental housing inspections where a violation was found, out of 30,700 total inspections—or 11 percent—had been brought up to code following notices of violation.” Andrew Giambrone | Curbed Washington DC | April 23, 2019
Syracuse is finding ways to prevent evictions “Under the program, two case managers will reach out to tenants as few as five days after they miss a rent payment to offer assistance. In some cases, the city or the housing authority can offer one-time financial assistance or payment plans to get caught up on the rent. They can also help recalculate a tenant’s rent if they’ve recently lost a job.” Jared Brey | Next City | April 18, 2019
NYCHA will X-ray for lead paint at 135,000 apartments“The tests, which will cost a whopping $88 million, kicked off at the Harlem River Houses on Monday and will eventually roll out to 135,000 public housing apartments by 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday.” Caroline Spivack | Curbed New York | April 16, 2019
City of Tulsa launches program to repurpose abandoned homes“‘The city will partner with community and nonprofits like Habitat for Humanity and Crossover Community Development Corporation — organizations already working in these neighborhoods — building homes on the lots that have been cleared to create opportunities for homeownership, focusing on the residents who are already living in these neighborhoods,’ [Mayor G.T.] Bynum said.” Matt Trotter | Public Radio Tulsa | April 29, 2019
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Volunteers to repair homes, clean vacant lots in Springfield neighborhood“The repairs to the neighborhood’s old housing stock focus on meaningful improvements to allow the homeowners, who are mostly elderly and on fixed-incomes, to remain safely in their homes and to lower expenses through energy efficiencies.” Paul Tuthill | WAMC | April 26, 2019