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!
Broken homes“A whole web of federal, state, local and even private regulations over housing and land use ensure that low-income residents live far away from wealthier ones; that apartment buildings are rarely situated next to single family housing; and, as a result, that black residents and white residents largely live in different neighborhoods.” Daniel C. Vock, J. Brian Charles, and Mike Maciag | Governing | January 23, 2019
Greening vacant lots: low cost, big effect in Philly“The broader objective is to improve the quality of life for residents who live near abandoned lots, to reduce crime, and to invest in local entrepreneurs. Remediating vacant lots increases property values in the surrounding area, and reduces gun violence, which not only saves the community money, but most important, improves neighborhood safety.” Maggie Loesch | Shelterforce | November 13, 2018
Black southerners are bearing the brunt of America’s eviction epidemic“Eviction Lab found that nine of the 10 highest-evicting large U.S. cities were not only located in the South but also had populations that were at least 30 percent black. Moreover, the top 25 entries in its ranking of mid-sized cities — including East Point, pop. 35,000 — experienced an eviction rate at least four times higher than the national average of 2.3 percent.” Max Blau | Stateline | January 18, 2019
Registry could help Rockford track, stop blight “It is hoped that by forcing such properties to register, it will make them easier to track. Registration would require the name and contact information for the owner or responsible party. Officials would require owners to maintain the properties, reducing blight across the city, [Nicholas] Meyer said.” Jeff Kolkey | rrstar.com | January 7, 2019
Nonprofit aims to address Louisville’s vacant properties through collaboration “‘I think we’re much better served as a community if we try to collaborate and come up with a coordinated, comprehensive plan to address this issue rather than everybody trying to be the Lone Ranger,’ [Kitty McKune] said.” Amina Elahi | 89.3 WFPL | January 24, 2019
The fight against blight“In addition to the city’s and EDA’s efforts, property owners are making changes of their own with less pressure from the city, Fortune said. There were two house demolitions done by owners last year, as well as three garages. In addition, neighbors are calling Fortune’s office to report blighted homes. Though less visible than a demolition, those calls are signs of progress, [Doug] Fortune said.” Debra Fitzgerald | Pipestone County Star | February 1, 2019
New legislation seeks to hold landlords accountable for long-vacant lots “The bill—Intro. 226—is one of six aimed at enhancing the city’s oversight on vacant properties, which often create health and safety hazards. The struggle to compel landlords to return their properties to productive use is by no means a new one, but the discussion has a renewed urgency with the severity of the city’s affordable housing and homelessness crises.” Caroline Spivack | Curbed New York | January 29, 2019
Spokane Valley nuisance property law gives neighborhood new lease on life “Under the ordinance, the city can pursue legal action against properties with more than four “criminal events” plus a junk violation, or five criminal complaints in a year. It could then obtain a court order to gain access to the property and clean it up.” Amy Edelen | The Spokesman-Review | January 28, 2019
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Camden receives $1 million to turn dumps into public art“‘A New View’ will rehab vacant lots along public transportation corridors into parks and art spaces, the Courier-Post reported. There are seven proposed sites for the project. All are located on or along transit corridors, so when they are used as illegal dumps, they’re not just eyesores for residents, but for everyone commuting into or through the city.” Rachel Kaufman | Next City | February 1, 2019