This is our twice-monthly round-up of news stories covering challenges related to vacant, abandoned, and problem 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!
Inmates enlisted to demolish vacant homes in Chicagoland“The unconventional effort makes a small dent in the enormous problem that abandoned homes have become to the Chicago area and the rest of the country in the aftermath of the Great Recession.” Aamer Madhani | USA Today | October 26, 2014
New Orleans auction attracts needy families, interested developers“He’s worked and saved money, and now hopes the NORA auction will help put him and his family of 10 back on solid ground.” Juan Sanchez | WDSU | October 25, 2014
City homeowners lose property for just $250 in unpaid taxes“Homeowners in Baltimore can lose their houses for as little as $250 in unpaid taxes — a threshold far lower than in other cities — according to a new Abell Foundation report that urges a change in the practice.”Yvonne Wenger | The Baltimore Sun | October 27, 2014
Kresge Foundation plans $5 million Detroit effort “The Kresge Foundation refocused its attention Monday on Detroit’s neighborhoods, announcing a new $5 million initiative to boost city-based nonprofits with shovel-ready projects.” Jennifer Chambers | The Detroit News | October 20, 2014
Crews start demolishing old Packard factory, long a symbol of Detroit blight“Resembling a large toothy metal claw, the heavy equipment also sent chunks of wood, brick and concrete crashing to the closed-off street below.” Corey Williams | Associated Press | October 17, 2014
City council introduces measure to place escalating fees on vacant properties“City council unanimously introduced an ordinance Thursday night to require owners of vacant properties to register them with the city, and pay an escalating fee for renewals.” David Foster | The Trentonian | October 16, 2014
Inside 50 Front St.: Ghosts and promises“A tour inside the property highlights the landmark building’s risks and potential rewards.”John R. Roby | Press & Sun-Bulletin | October 17, 2014
Millions for demolition within reach for Cleveland and inner-ring suburbs“‘We need this so badly,’ Kelley said. ‘We’re really looking forward to finally bringing relief to those neighborhoods that have been dealing with these abandoned homes for far too long.'” Leila Atassi | The Plain Dealer | October 27, 2014
Expat, back home, has big plans to redevelop the Bok school“Bok was a vocational school, a place of training and learning. The idea is to do a mixed-use development in phases.” Michael Hinkelman | Philly Daily News | October 21, 2014
The housing crisis we don’t talk about“There are serious concerns about the quality of housing available to many working-class and low-income renters who make a home there.” Jake Blumgart | Next City | October 20, 2014
Aggressively use new state blight law“Every government with blight problems should embrace a new state law aimed at a fundamental driver of blight — absentee landlords who bleed the value from rental properties and then abandon them.” Editorial | The Times-Tribune | October 24, 2014
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Flint Public Art Project seeks to replace blight with positive words for next neighborhood art parade “When people walk through Flint’s Civic Park neighborhood Thursday, Oct. 23, they won’t see just blighted houses, but colorful words intended to make them think about the neighborhood in a new way.” Scott Atkinson | M Live | October 22, 2014