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!
The rise of the ‘meanwhile space’: how empty properties are finding second lives “A report published in October by the thinktank Centre for London highlights both the need for and positive possibilities of utilising empty urban sites and how this could transform the landscape of cities around the globe.” Laura Latham | The Guardian | November 28, 2018
For the poor, Obamacare can reduce late rent payments “Those who were able to acquire health insurance under Obamacare’s subsidized exchanges were 25 percent less likely to miss paying their rent or mortgage on time.” Kriston Capps | CityLab | December 4, 2018
Appetite for deconstruction“Unlike demolition, deconstruction is a sustainable approach to systematically disassembling buildings, which can result in up to 95 percent material reuse and recycling. This method, however, may increase time and cost, while at the same time potentially creating a vibrant reuse market for salvaged materials.” Rex Lamore, George H. Berghorn, and M.G. Matt Syal | CityLab | November 20, 2018
Setting the stage to revive America’s middle neighborhoods“Many more neighborhoods continue to be buffeted by the stress of demographic and economic change, aging housing stock, suburban competition and more, often exacerbated by adverse public policies. And nowhere are these risks greater than among the many middle neighborhoods in our cities that for decades have housed much of the nation’s African-American middle class.” Alan Mallach | Next City | November 19, 2018
Transforming vacant land into community assets“Vacant land can be a window into what is in a place, not just what isn’t. Participation in a shared effort to reclaim a vacant lot demonstrates grit, determination, and ingenuity, and may provide individuals with the knowledge, appreciation, and language to better participate in future neighborhood development activities.” Andrew Butcher | Shelterforce | November 13, 2018The Fall 2018 issue of Shelterforce is dedicated to vacant properties. Check out the articles here.
City of Topeka, Shawnee County to work to use tax foreclosure to help revitalize neighborhoods“The county is also looking to hold a “bare lot” judicial tax foreclosure sale, [Megan] Barrett said. She said it has pinpointed various bare vacant lots that are eligible for tax foreclosure, and the city planning department has identified which are appropriate to become construction sites.” Tim Hrenchir | The Topeka Capital-Journal | November 29, 2018
Radical new program saves Detroiters from brink of homelessness“For those now “credited” occupants, the Make it Home program could feel like divine intervention. In reality, it’s much more mundane, but also, in some ways, a remarkable phenomenon: Bureaucrats from the public and private spheres coming together to imagine a solution to a problem that’s burdened the community for decades.” Allie Gross | Detroit Free Press | November 20, 2018
Vicksburg first to begin new blight removal program“Under the blight elimination program, the city will remove selected homes with a clear title. The blight partner, a nonprofit corporation, buys the dilapidated property and builds the new home on the site after the old building is removed. The new home is then sold to a new owner.”John Surratt | The Vicksburg Post | November 20, 2018
Lorain aggressively goes after vacant, decrepit as part of new initiative“In the last six months, city inspectors have identified more than 350 properties that they’ll eventually have to deal with. They target 10-15 a month, starting the long process of notifying owners, documenting violations, and taking the proper steps to knock the house down.” Kevin Barry | ABC 5 | November 27, 2018
Janesville hopes vacant building registry will help tackle eyesore properties“The registry is designed to give Janesville officials more comprehensive knowledge of where such properties are located and provides them with a contact person for each building in case of emergency.” Jim Dayton | GazetteXtra | November 15, 2018
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Adams Garden Park opening this summer“‘It will be a beautiful green space that will support activities, such as water demonstrations,’ for the building tenants’ environmental programs, as well as those of others working on sustainability projects in the neighborhood.’ [said Sharon Adams.]” Andrea Waxman | Urban Milwaukee | November 17, 2018