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!
America’s great housing divide: Are you a winner or loser?“[A] new analysis by The Washington Post shows that the recovery has been deeply uneven, creating winners and losers along lines of race, income and geography.” Ted Mellnik, Darla Cameron, Denise Lu, Emily Badger and Kat Downs | Washington Post | April 28, 2016
Who can go after banks for the foreclosure crisis?“[S]hould cities be able to sue the banks, too? That’s the question making its way through courts across the country after municipalities including Los Angeles, Miami, Oakland, and Providence all filed lawsuits against lenders under the Fair Housing Act.” Alana Semuels | The Atlantic | May 3, 2016
How to make city housing more affordable“In many cities, large swaths of people are being priced out of the market. But several strategies might change that.” Mark Peters | Wall Street Journal | April 24, 2016
EB-5s get new shot at true community investment “The trio of organizations hope that foreign investors will be especially interested to support mission-based projects with community input, vetted and packaged by a community-based organization with deep roots in social justice and community activism.” Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | April 27, 2016
U.S. Department of the Treasury drops $1 billion in the fight against blight“The $1 billion allocation is the fifth and final round of disbursements under the Hardest Hit Fund, a program launched in 2010 under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to help anchor distressed neighborhoods in 18 states and the District of Columbia.” Kriston Capps | CityLab | April 20, 2016
From blight to bright: Community group renovates homes, finds new owners“STAND purchases blighted homes that have been foreclosed, or are being sold by slumlords or families that are in financial distress, Sheil said. After renovating the houses, STAND vets potential buyers to make sure they are planning to live in them, not rent them out as absentee landlords.” Roger Phillips | The Record | April 27, 2016
Land bank offers new hope for polluted properties“A new nonprofit enabled by legislation pending before the General Assembly is aimed at helping those properties that might otherwise be a lost cause.”Connecticut Post | Hugh Bailey | April 24, 2016
Around Atlanta, the housing recovery’s great divide is in stark black and white“According to a new Washington Post analysis, the higher a Zip code’s share of black residents in the Atlanta region, the worse its housing values have fared over the past turbulent housing cycle.” Emily Badger | Washington Post | May 1, 2016
Redevelopment plan takes on quality of life in Macon“’The trend of increased blight and disinvestment in the Urban Redevelopment Area can be expected to continue if action is not taken,’ said Crystal Gaillard, the plan’s author. ‘While enormous strides have been made in reducing the blight, a strategic and targeted approach must be taken.’” Stanley Dunlap | Macon Telegraph | April 22, 2016
Flint’s water crisis could slow its housing recovery“Many residents like Holley worry that the city’s two-year-old water crisis will only worsen the city’s housing market.” Alex P. Kellogg | NBC News | April 23, 2016
Tiny house development will serve KC homeless veterans“Some military veterans who want to help struggling and homeless veterans have started a program to build tiny houses on a vacant piece of land in south Kansas City.” Lynn Horsley | Kansas City Star | May 1, 2016
Reno reinvention puts a target on blight“The city has long had issues with slumlords, according to Delgado, because of a lack of public resources. The city would issue warnings and orders…but never had the resources to go in and do the demolition work itself.”Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | April 22, 2016
Batavia tackling zombie homes head-onWhile many vacant homes continue to crumble in Wilkinsburg, a select few will have their stories told.” Mike Richards |WESA | April 25, 2016
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Brighten the blight: Boarded-up buildings serve as canvas for Peoria art students“Twenty-one students from Scott Woodhall’s art classes at Peoria High were applying paint to their own designs for works that will cover windows and doors of six homes on Howett Street that are slated for demolition later this year.” Steve Tarter | Journal Star | April 25, 2016