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!
Why residents of ‘black ZIP codes’ can’t breathe “Other physical and socio-economic characteristics of these neighborhoods contribute to the disparity, too. These ZIP codes tend to be poorer, less educated, and further away from quality health care. The housing stock tends to be at least 7 years older and often vacant, making it more likely that mold, vermin, and other in-house irritants that trigger asthma.”Tanvi Misra | CityLab | July 28, 2017
City launches new Savannah Shines initiative “For the next year and a half, Savannah Shines will pump resources into the Edgemere-Sackville neighborhood, with the goal of enhancing the well-being and quality of life for the people who live there. “We’ll be working with landlords and homeowners who have roofing problems or housing problems, things that we can do to improve the outside of the houses through a series of financial incentives,” [Martin] Fretty said. Fretty says that will be a match-based incentive and be possible with millions in public and private funds.”Sean Evans | WTOC 11 | August 11, 2017
Chicago initiative fights blight and unemployment “The new Chicago Neighborhood Rebuild pilot program aims to address the blight and the unemployment by building a path into meaningful careers for at-risk youth and returning citizens. About 200 at-risk youth, returning citizens and others with high barriers to employment will help to rehab 50 vacant properties in three police precincts identified by the city as “high need,” the 7th, 10th and 11th precincts.” Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | August 2, 2017
For sale: Boarded up, crumbling former corner store assessed at $5,000. Price: $1.76 million “The crumbling, century-old building [Stevens] owned in West Baltimore is one of at least 15 properties on the city’s tax sale list that have accrued more than $1 million in debt over the past decade. These million-dollar vacants are the most extreme examples of a far more widespread problem: Thousands of properties in Baltimore are encumbered with liens for more than they’re worth. In many cases, far more. And that makes them zombies, empty, abandoned and unattractive to developers, contributing to the blight that plagues the city.” Ian Duncan and Yvonne Wenger | Baltimore Sun | August 12, 2017
Portraits of residents put a face on emerging Edison neighborhood “Portraits of more than 100 residents of Kalamazoo’s largest neighborhood are being displayed there over the next two weeks to showcase the diversity and interest of people in Edison, “and to beautify spaces that have been or are currently vacant,” according to the Kalamazoo County Land Bank.”Al Jones | mLive | July 25, 2017
Local law firms and Legal Aid team up to serve KC urban neighborhoods “For a small neighborhood, these vacant homes are a big problem. Kutak Rock and Legal Aid are using Missouri’s Abandoned Housing Act to take properties from absentee owners. The property must be vacant for six months, delinquent on taxes or a nuisance to the community before the firm can file a lawsuit to eventually claim ownership for the neighborhood. After the neighborhood has claimed title with the help of the law firm, Legal Aid steps in and finds a local resident or company willing to rehabilitate the house.” Lily O’Neill |The Kansas City Star | July 8, 2017
New York City guarantees a lawyer to every resident facing eviction “The law promises legal representation to any resident facing eviction whose income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less. The act could transform housing court in New York, where landlords appear with counsel in more than 90 percent of cases. Until 2014, tenants were represented in just 1 to 10 percent of cases.” Kriston Capps | CityLab | August 14, 2017
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
#FlintRevitalizing – When it comes to keeping up Flint’s parks, it takes an army Over the next few weeks, our featured ‘Blight to Bright’ spot will highlight stories on effective resident-led revitalization efforts in Flint. Click the image above to learn more about Quincy Murphy and fellow residents’ work in maintaining and restoring neighborhood parks into community gems, and share your reactions using #FlintRevitalizing!