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!
Don’t call Trump’s housing order a YIMBY plan“[H]ousing advocates—including those who support upzoning—are not celebrating their powerful new ally. Many are concerned that the White House council won’t significantly alleviate the country’s affordability problem—and they fear it could make it worse.” Sarah Holder | CityLab | June 26, 2019
Blight and vacant land are a national crisis for smaller cities“‘They’re causes, in that once vacancy starts to happen, it can make things worse,’ [Alan Mallach] says. ‘But, ultimately, neighborhoods, towns, and cities are really dependent on what’s happening in the larger market and economy. One of the things that’s so frustrating in the U.S. is that you’re seeing larger and larger disparities between those regions making it in the global economy and those that aren’t.'” Patrick Sisson | Curbed | June 25, 2019
Investment without displacement: From slogan to strategy “Activists have long advocated for investment without displacement, or development without displacement, in our cities and communities. This framework recognizes that investments, both public and private, can spark and fuel displacement and can transform not only the built environment, but also determine who is able to live in the area.” Anna Cash and Miriam Zuk | Shelterforce | June 21, 2019
Mesa’s ‘Love Your Neighborhood’ program reducing crime, blight“‘They saw when their home was being remodeled, their neighbor would come out and clean up their yard, or vice-versa,’ said [Lindsey] Balinkie. ‘They were motivating each other a little bit. I think it does have an impact when you’re seeing people take care of their properties. It makes you want to step up, too, and do it.'” Jason Barry | azfamily.com | June 25, 2019
‘Nearly all’ publicly owned properties now mapped on LA city controller website“The map is meant to “empower people who live in the city who know the needs of their neighborhoods best, to think about what use public properties in their community could have,” [Ian Thompson] said.” Elizabeth Chou | Los Angeles Daily News | June 19, 2019
Rockford City Council to grant 8 homeowners vacant properties in ‘Mow to Own’ program“‘By having two years of mowing and maintaining, we’re really showing that these are responsible property owners and they’ll be maintained and become a community asset into the future,’ [Karl] Franzen said.” Karina Parada | WTVO 17 | June 11, 2019
U of M study offers deep-dive on evictions in north Minneapolis “‘North Minneapolis is a community manufactured to contain undesirable populations through housing discrimination, decades of urban disinvestment, unfair lending practices, and disproportionate evictions,’ said Dr. Brittany Lewis…’The situation has become further exacerbated by the rise in distressed-property investment. Single black women with children living below the poverty line lead more than 60 percent of the black households in north Minneapolis.'” Jim Walsh | MinnPost | May 31, 2019
Landmark deal reached on rent protections for tenants in N.Y. “‘These reforms give New Yorkers the strongest tenant protections in history,’ the Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and the Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, said in a joint statement. ‘For too long, power has been tilted in favor of landlords and these measures finally restore equity and extend protections to tenants across the state.'” Luis Ferré-Sadurní, Jesse McKinley and Vivian Wang | The New York Times | June 11, 2019
After 10 years and 8,000 demolitions, Cuyahoga Land Bank shifts focus to rehabs“The land bank’s biggest impact has come from the program that represents the bulk of its work to date: demolition of vacant and abandoned properties. But with demolition funds dwindling and significant progress made on tearing down the county’s most blighted properties, the organization is preparing to pivot, including expanding its roles in rehabilitation and both residential and commercial development.” Jordyn Grzelewski | cleveland.com | June 24, 2019
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
In Detroit, empty lots become parks, helping to rebuild lost social equity“For SMM founding principal Wes Michaels, the project was a matter of formalizing how residents were already using the vacant land. The new landscapes will radically alter the spatial patterns of the neighborhood, he says, but won’t disrupt its intimate and steadfastly residential character.” Zach Mortice | Metropolis | June 24, 2019