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!
Unpacking the power of privileged neighborhoods“[Junia] Howell said; it challenges a central assumption that poor areas, and the people who live in them, are the problems. To solve disparities, therefore, a single-minded focus on pouring resources into disadvantaged neighborhood may not just be ineffective, but also counterproductive. The core problems lie in places and in institutions outside those communities.” Tanvi Misra | CityLab | March 18, 2019
As affordable housing crisis worsens, Trump proposes more cuts“The Trump administration, in its latest budget proposal, suggests slashing funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by more than 16 percent, with those cuts affecting public housing and the maintenance and improvement of public housing buildings, and wants to add work requirements to existing programs.” Patrick Sisson | Curbed | March 14, 2019
Stabilizing neighborhoods through strategic code enforcement “Vacant properties, substandard housing, and neighborhood quality profoundly affect our health, education, and safety. Strategic code enforcement programs can serve as communities’ first line of defense for addressing deteriorating homes, vacant properties, and neighborhood decline.” Joe Schilling | How Housing Matters | March 13, 2019
How abandoned big-box stores can bring communities together “From [Lynn] Richards’ perspective, it is imperative to “think creatively about how these spaces can be reintegrated into a thriving community.” Because of their typical location — outside of town, just off an expressway — connecting the empty big-box store to a greater community can be a challenge.” Valerie Vande Panne | Next City | March 11, 2019
Push to create a regional housing agency for the Bay Area“The ideas included emergency rent and legal assistance to tenants facing eviction, a regional rent cap, streamlined approval for more developments and minimum zoning standards for housing around transit stops. Many of those ideas have already been introduced in the state Legislature.” Guy Marzorati | KQED | March 7, 2019
Developers say there’s no vacant land in Miami. This tool shows half a billion square feet.“The program, which is free to use and available to the public, collects and visualizes data from the Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser. It allows users to apply various filters to searches, so they can distinguish vacant, available city lots from county-owned land previously used but no longer needed by government agencies.” Rene Rodriguez and Sarah Moreno | Miami Herald | March 15, 2019
Detroiters getting deeds to homes they thought they lost to tax foreclosure “‘For years, residents of foreclosed homes were pitted against anyone who wanted to buy a home in the auction. It was Detroit versus Everybody. Our program gives residents the first option to buy their home, giving justice to low-income homeowners and creating ownership opportunities out of the trauma of foreclosure,’ said Michele Oberholtzer of the United Community Housing Coalition.” Allie Gross | Detroit Free Press | March 16, 2019
Study shows what happens after blight is removed from Detroit neighborhoods“For roughly every three demolitions completed in that time period, block-groups experienced an average reduction in crime of almost 1 percent. With the average block-group in the study experiencing about 10.7 demolitions during that span, the average reduction in crime was approximately 3 percent.” Keith Matheny | Detroit Free Press | March 5, 2019
Oregon just enacted statewide rent control—and it could be a model for the country“If rent control was adopted by all states—or through a federal policy—a total of 42 million households could be stabilized. In Oregon alone, the new rent control legislation will immediately stabilize a half-million households, the report notes, a majority of which are low-income.” Alissa Walker | Curbed | March 8, 2019
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
City officials in New Iberia working to clear 30 blighted properties “‘We don’t want to represent empty lots, we want people. By cleaning these properties up, hopefully the ones that are boarded, we will be able to put back on the market and the ones that we tear down now makes a vacant piece of property that could be developed,’ [Mayor Freddie DeCourt] said.”Caroline Marcello | KLFY 10 | March 11, 2019