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!
Does foreclosure affect how we vote?“[I]f housing distress is, in fact, influencing voting behavior, then candidates in the 2020 presidential election need to be more mindful of it. ‘Our political leaders need to take a closer look at housing issues in the country,’ [Deirdre] Pfeiffer said. ‘Housing issues tend to be seen as more localized, but [given these findings], people in federal office need to take more of a stand.’” Tanvi Misra | CityLab | March 3, 2019
Putting health care dollars to work “[A]n effort to boost a community’s health doesn’t have to be a one-off grant by a large health care institution. It can be developed as a contract that treats a community development organization as a true partner and leverages its employees’ expertise, and that includes a real return on investment for a hospital or insurer.” Amanda Abrams | Shelterforce | February 25, 2019
What modern-day housing discrimination looks like: A conversation with the National Fair Housing Alliance “We are more segregated today than we were 100 years ago. Communities of color still have less access to the amenities and services that people need to thrive. African Americans and Latinos were disproportionately impacted by the foreclosure crisis and these communities still have not fully recovered.” Zillow | Zillow Research | February 4, 2019
Audit of North Chicago Housing Authority finds vouchers going to housing that’s ‘not decent, safe, and sanitary’“The North Chicago Housing Authority cited a lack of training and frequent turnover as the reasons behind the inspection errors, according to the audit. The agency has not been fully staffed since November 2017.” Emily K. Coleman | Chicago Tribune | February 19, 2019
South Bend council OKs rental property inspection program“Rather than beginning the program by requiring inspections of all rental housing in an impoverished near northwest-side neighborhood, as was initially planned, the program will start with properties that the city’s case files already indicate have alleged health and safety problems.” Jeff Parrott | South Bend Tribune | February 26, 2019
Researchers: Battling blight in Baton Rouge can play a key role in fighting crime “The researchers point to several explanations, including that vacant lots and abandoned buildings can provide spaces for people to engage in criminal activities with less fear of being detected and caught. The study also notes that a high concentration of blight lowers property values among surrounding homes, ultimately ‘reducing a neighborhood’s equity and wealth.'” Lea Skene | The Advocate | February 23, 2019
See how the Chemung County Land Bank is reducing urban blight in Elmira“‘The land bank is a really exciting project. It provides housing but it’s also addressing the issue of abandoned properties, or ones that are going in that direction, really deteriorating,’ [Emma] Miran said. ‘Obviously the goal is to rehab as much as possible rather than take (houses) down. We really want to prevent deterioration. Absolutely, I think (the land bank) has been very beneficial.’Jeff Murray | Star Gazette | February 27, 2019
Nashville gives away vacant lots to advance new affordable housing idea“What’s unique is that the buyers will purchase only the structures, not the land beneath, “making that structure more affordable, by separating out the land,” says Marshall Crawford, CEO of The Housing Fund. That’s the nonprofit that is receiving the properties from Metro.” Tony Gonzalez | Nashville Public Radio | February 8, 2019
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Blighted property in Memphis demolished to make way for housing for veterans“‘In the next few months we’ll put out bids because we’re using state funding to build back homes for veterans,’ [Amy] Schaftlein said. ‘Two bed, two bath homes built right back here…The timeline will probably be two to three months,’ she said.” Leah Jordan | FOX13 Memphis | March 5, 2019