Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties – June 29, 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!

Downtown Muskegon, Michigan. (Credit: Michigan Municipal League, flickr, 2017)


How HUD could reverse course on racial discrimination “At a time when [HUD] is already locked in a court battle over fair housing law and proposing to raise rents on low-income families, the move indicates Secretary Ben Carson’s efforts to rethink the department’s fundamental obligation to protect vulnerable residents against discrimination.”  Kriston Capps | CityLab | June 21, 2018

New maps show access to opportunity isn’t just physical  “The Assessing and Promoting Opportunity in Low- and Moderate-Income Communities report investigated two neighborhoods over an 18-month period, one in San Francisco and another in New Orleans, in very different circumstances. The purpose of the report, as its authors said, was to ‘shed light on which aspects of access to opportunity are universal — i.e. seem to be present regardless of setting — and which are more a matter of local particularities.'”   Rachel Kaufman | Next City | June 6, 2018

The role of community land trusts after Hurricane Maria“Since the hurricane, [Maria] Hernandez says she and other attorneys have gone to many communities, working to get sworn, notarized statements as proof of homeownership. ‘In those cases, FEMA would grant assistance to some but not others,’ she says. ‘We don’t know what criteria they used.’ Hernandez says that means some people get disqualified for the assistance to which they have a right. Establishing community land trusts offers one strategy for overcoming the ownership hurdle.” Zoe Sullivan | Next City | June 1, 2018


A bridge to segregation? Englewood photographer introduces neighbors on opposite sides of Chicago “Segregation has ‘not been a part of the conversation when we discuss the conditions of specifically African-American neighborhoods in Chicago,’ [Tonika] Johnson said. ‘This project illuminated that, as well as (it got) people to open up their minds and question what’s going on in other neighborhoods in the city because of segregation. It’s not a fault of our own. We are operating within a system that was designed to segregate us.'”  Elvia Malagon | Chicago Tribune | May 21, 2018


Northwest Detroit residents, Sinai-Grace develop neighborhood framework“The group sees a strong link between where residents live and their health outcomes. They’ll work with residents to address housing safety issues, like lead paint, safety, and warmth. ‘If you don’t have housing security,’ [Melinda] Clemons says, ‘Education could suffer.'”  Robin Runyan | Curbed Detroit | June 21, 2018


Minneapolis reconsiders its eviction-oriented approach to landlords“[Council Member Phillipe Cunningham] said a new system for dealing with problem properties can both protect vulnerable tenants and be a more effective way to root out chronic criminal behavior in neighborhoods, rather than have problem tenants ‘move from one property to another property.’ That must include consistency, tracking and measurement, Cunningham said.”  Adam Belz | Star Tribune | June 9, 2018


Black families were pushed out of Portland. Can this program help them return?“In Portland, Oregon, a program called Right to Return aims to atone for the repeated displacement of thousands of African-American families from the city.”Amna Nawaz | PBS News Hour | June 18, 2018

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Kelly Marsh, Times Herald-Record)

Groups plan makeover of neglected Newburgh park“While the park is small, cleaning and repairing the park’s fencing and playground equipment is expected to have a large impact in an area where the breakup of gangs has cleared the way for turning vacant properties into new residences for adults and children.”Leonard Sparks | recordonline.com | June 24, 2018