Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties – August 24, 2018

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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!

Washington Hill neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland. (Credit: Kirsten H. Johnson, flickr, 2016)


Robust eviction data can keep cities from “designing policy in the dark”“Despite this increased attention, policy analysts still struggle to find complete answers about many aspects of the eviction crisis. What is the cost of eviction, and how does it compare with the cost of prevention? Where do families go after being evicted? Who are the most common evictors in each city, and what would bring them to the table for solutions?”Emily Peiffer | How Housing Matters | August 15, 2018

Breaking: HUD will rewrite Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule  “‘HUD’s goal in pursuing new rulemaking is to offer more helpful guidance to states and local communities to effectively promote fair housing choice through the use of their federal funds,’ according to an announcement released this morning from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”   James Brasuell | Planetizen | August 13, 2018

How 911 calls on blacks are a new twist on something old: white flight“‘What we see now is the same underlying dynamic — the feeling that these public spaces cannot be shared,’ says [Kevin] Kruse, author of “White Flight: Atlanta and the Making of Modern Conservatism.” ‘But rather than white flight, it’s fight.'” John Blake | CNN | August 10, 2018

Setting aside housing for frequent health care users  “There’s a growing realization around the country that of all the social determinants of health, housing is perhaps the most influential. Housing insecurity can create and exacerbate a huge range of illnesses and symptoms. For hospitals and insurers, there can be major cost savings involved in focusing on housing because homeless people or those living in unsafe conditions are often the highest users of hospital services and can cost the system thousands of dollars in hospitalizations and emergency room visits.”  Amanda Abrams | Shelterforce | July 30, 2018

District of Columbia

D.C. landlords can now register vacant properties with the city online“In the past, landlords had to go in person to DCRA’s office in Southwest to register their vacant properties. Now, in a move that officials hope will provide them with more accurate data, the agency is letting vacant-property owners notify officials using a new online portal.” Andrew Glambrone | Curbed Washington DC | August 20, 2018

Numerous children have been poisoned by lead in homes approved by D.C. housing inspectors“The findings again highlight key weaknesses in federal guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which the District and other cities follow. Many rental properties supported by housing vouchers in the city receive inspections under these standards. But they require only visual inspections for peeling paint and don’t mandate lead testing, unlike states such as Maryland and Rhode Island.” Terrence McCoy | The Washington Post | August 15, 2018

New York

Tenant organizing is picking up steam in Rochester “[Joe] Di Fiore has witnessed public sentiment change around the work. ‘When the eviction blockades first started happening, it was looked down upon,’ he says. ‘Then, as more and more people were touched by the housing crash and foreclosure crisis…people started getting more sympathetic on and on-board with the cause. It’s empowered a lot of people.'”  Emily Nonko | Next City | August 15, 2018


Neighbors join Lucas County Land Bank in fighting blight in Toledo “‘Vicki Smith is exactly the kind of person that this community needs 100 of to step up,’ Mr. [David] Mann said. ‘It’s not just enough for the land bank to do what we’re doing. It’s not just enough for a homeowner on their block to do it. But if we work together we are going to see positive change over time.'”  Sarah Elms | The Blade | August 17, 2018


How these Portland residents got to own a piece of their neighborhood “Through the East Portland Community Investment Trust, thought to be the first entity of its kind in the country, individuals or families who live in the four ZIP codes around Plaza 122 can currently invest as little as $10 a month to buy ownership shares of Plaza 122.”  Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | August 14, 2018

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Gregory Scruggs)

Plaza heralds new era of afrocentric development in Seattle neighborhood“‘I see my neighborhood getting torn down every day so I decided to help my community around me,’ said [Destiny] Harris, who attended elementary through high school in the Central District. ‘It does feel more empowering to show people that we can build our community back the way it was.'” Gregory Scruggs | Next City | August 7, 2018