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!
Affluent and black, and still trapped by segregation “It was Milwaukee’s – and America’s – history and maintenance of racist policies, through housing discrimination, divestment of black communities, and policing, all coming to a head.” John Eligon and Robert Gebeloff | The New York Times | August 20, 2016
Clouds of dust hang over Arkansas program to fight blight“’Over the course of seven months, the city got its end of the bargain, as scores of eyesores were knocked down and carted away. For the workers, who swung sledgehammers and hauled debris for months on end with the barest of training or protective gear, covering their mouths with sleeves amid clouds of shimmering and potentially toxic dust, it was hardly any bargain at all.’” Campbell Robertson and Ethan Tate | The New York Times | August 13, 2016
District of Columbia
Will D.C.’s housing ever be affordable again?“D.C’s affordability problem arrived and grew – rapidly.”Gillian B. White | The Atlantic | August 19, 2016
Long-troubled D.C. regulatory agency gets week-long review from mayor“[Chief of Staff] Falcicchio says Bowser will be looking at all of the DCRA’s operations, and on Monday focused on an issue that’s been of particular annoyance to many residents and civic activists in the city: vacant and blighted properties.” Martin Austermuhle | WAMU 88.5 | August 16, 2016
The Cook County Land Bank is chipping away at abandoned properties one house at a time “’The land bank’s purpose is twofold: to buy and resell abandoned property for rehab or redevelopment, and to clear land of blighted structures and revert it to redevelopment or community uses like parks and gardens.’” Maya Dukmasova | Chicago Reader | August 12, 2016
High school students set to build a house“The Marquette County Land Bank Authority donated the land to the district in order to finance the demolition of an old school building that was once located at the site.” Jerry Taylor | ABC News 10 | August 16, 2016
Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh aims to beautify empty lots“The URA hopes to upgrade lot maintenance by farming out some of its estimated 1,500 vacant properties to small companies and nonprofits based in neighborhoods hosting the lots.” Bob Bauder | TribLive | August 15, 2016
Dallas is on track toward a better housing code“While some technical issues remain unresolved, the city is a major step closer to enacting a much stronger housing code.” Staff Writer | The Dallas Morning News | August 18, 2016
Milwaukee neighborhoods slid after factory jobs vanished“Falling housing prices have resulted in a “massive loss of wealth in the city’s African-American community,” wrote author Alan Mallach.” Shibani Mahtani and Scott Calvert | Wall Street Journal | August 15, 2016
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Tha Flower Factory helps brighten east Baltimore neighborhood “A field of sunflowers is eye catching, no matter where they are but especially in an east Baltimore neighborhood surrounded by vacant houses.”Jennifer Franciotti | WBAL TV | August 18, 2016