Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties – October 18, 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!

Mural in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Credit: Perry Quan, flickr, 2011)


Housing assistance needs a basic-income approach“[T]he point of D.C. Flex is to alleviate rent burdens for people whose income fluctuates over the course of a year, rather than people who live in consistent poverty.”  Eillie Anzilotti | Fast Company | October 8, 2018

Opportunity zones: vital community development tool or tax windfall for the rich? “Advocates for the program call it a potentially game-changing community development tool that can direct investment to areas of the country that didn’t benefit from the post-financial crisis recovery. But some policy analysts call it a loophole-riddled windfall for the ultra-rich that won’t lead to additional development but just make developments already in progress that much more profitable for investors.”  Jeff Andrews | Curbed | October 3, 2018


Run-down, abandoned buildings pose problems for Topeka law enforcement“The effects of abandoned housing in those areas were significant: police response frequency to city blocks with abandoned housing was 38 percent higher than to blocks without; fire department response was 5 percent higher; and code violations on those blocks were 72 percent more frequent.”   Morgan Chilson | The Topeka Capital-Journal | October 14, 2018


New Detroit project replaces blight with art“‘We have so many talented Detroiters and that’s who we’re trying to empower with this arts initiative,’ said Zak Meers. ‘Murals have been exploding. Public art in the city has been exploding since 2011. I think this is a great opportunity for this time period.'” Evrod Cassimy | WDIV 4 | October 11, 2018

North Carolina

Evacuated and evicted, many of Hurricane Florence’s victims have nowhere to go“But many households are facing the same stubborn truth displaced residents learned after Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and after Hurricane Matthew in 2016: Many areas of rural North Carolina had a shortage of affordable housing before floods hit, and high waters took out much of what did exist.”  Josh Shaffer and Martha Quillin | The News & Observer | October 7, 2018


One Texas city’s aggressive plan to reverse housing segregation“The new policy is one of the few in the country that aggressively attacks segregation, according to Miguel Solis, president of the Latino Center for Leadership Development in Dallas, who helped craft it. Officials aim to do that in three ways: by creating and maintaining affordable housing throughout the city rather than in a few pockets; by increasing fair housing choices through a rental voucher sublease program (which gives incentives to landlords and developers to rent to voucher holders); and by tackling patterns of segregation through incentives and requirements for housing developers.”   Stateline | Governing | October 3, 2018


How does Richmond move forward after high eviction rate “‘What Virginia has that other states don’t have are eviction laws which are some of the least friendly, least favorable and least fair for tenants in the country,’ [Martin] Wegbreit said. Another problem includes race. ‘Race is more of a factor leading to high eviction rates than poverty is.'”   Kriston Capps | CityLab | October 3, 2018

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: City of Hartford)

Blight no more: Check out 13 before-and-after transformations in Hartford“Since last June, 137 blighted properties have been fixed up by their owners, using their own money or with help from community nonprofits, according to Hartford’s two-year-old blight remediation team. Some are now occupied for the first time in years. They’re generating revenue for their owners and taxes for the city. Just as important, they’re bringing a healthier environment to their neighborhoods.” Rebecca Lurye | Hartford Courant | October 11, 2018