Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – February 26, 2016

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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!

Fountain in Downtown Detroit (Credit: Luke Telander for Center for Community Progress,  2014)

Fountain in Downtown Detroit (Credit: Luke Telander for Center for Community Progress, 2014)

National

How to prevent zombie foreclosures and improve neighborhoods“In judicial-foreclosure states, better judicial supervision of mortgage-foreclosure cases can prevent zombie foreclosures, lessen blight, and improve neighborhoods.” Gregg Hagopian | The Judicial Edge | February 18, 2016

Connecticut

Tax liens sales in Connecticut often target the most financially vulnerable“Tax liens are too often levied against the most financially vulnerable in a town: often older people of color who struggled to own their homes in the first place.” Susan Campbell | WNPR | February 24, 2016

Kentucky

Fischer proposes buying up West End tax liens“‘Our vision is to chip away at some of the issues with vacant and abandoned properties and declining real estate values that continue to be a significant problem in the West End,’ she said.” Phillip M. Bailey | Courier Journal | February 23, 2016

Louisiana

More than 230 vacant Lower Ninth Ward properties to be fixed“‘What we are talking about is an entire effort to revitalize the whole area and retain the people there,’ Jim Pate with Habitat for Humanity said. ‘We also want to bring people back, so we are going to work with community groups and residents to make that happen.'”Antwan Harris | WWLTV | February 23, 2016

Maryland

In Baltimore’s battle with blight, some best practices“Today we want to get some context for these plans – what policies and practices make eliminating blight successful for city economies and the people who live in them? And what locks communities out of economic growth and change? Alan Mallach joins Tom in the studio.” Tom Hall & Jonna Mckone | WYPR | February 19, 2016

Michigan

These are the American cities with the most abandoned houses“The public health crisis that has seized Flint is only the latest struggle for the Michigan city, where one in six houses is vacant after a long period of decline.” Kate Abbey-Lambertz | Huffington Post | February 13, 2016

Detroit blight fight to be boosted by Treasury funds“A Michigan-led effort to have $2 billion in federal funds moved into a program that helps Detroit and other cities across the U.S. to tear down decrepit, abandoned buildings paid off Friday, with the state poised to receive as much as $323 million more in the months to come.” Todd Spangler | Detroit Free Press | February 19, 2016

New mortgage program big boost for Detroit buyers“A new program to help Detroit home buyers finance purchases will guarantee 1,000 mortgages in a city where banks have been skittish about lending because of deeply depressed property values, Mayor Mike Duggan, bankers and charitable foundation leaders said Thursday.” Matt Helms | Detroit Free Press | February 18, 2016

Mississippi

City creates one-stop-shop to report, track property issues“’Out there, there are people who are already taking care of the property because they don’t want a bunch of weeds next door,’ Foote said. ‘This gives them a chance to own it.’” Anna Wolfe | The Clarion Ledger | February 18, 2016

New York

Troy picked for new state home financing program“’It’s about getting these vacant buildings and vacant properties back into property ownership,’ said Heather King, chair of the local land bank’s board.” Mark Robarge | Troy Record | February 17, 2016

Ohio

Two studies will look at abandoned and blighted properties in Youngstown“Late last week, the City of Youngstown approved a study of blighted and abandoned properties. As WKSU’s Kabir Bhatia reports, one neighborhood group is already compiling data on the city’s vacant homes.” Kabir Bhatia | WKSU | February 21, 2016

Ohio will get millions more to fight blight and foreclosures“‘That money will enable us to continue demolition work in all the depressed towns in Ohio,’ said Jim Rokakis of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, which has worked to remove distressed property in Northeast Ohio.” Stephen Koff | Cleveland.com | February 19, 2016

City creates one-stop-shop to report, track property issues“Ohio has created a $20 million grant program to clean up abandoned gas stations.” Mark Ferenchik | The Columbus Dispatch | February 17, 2016

Pennsylvania

Report: PHA raises $9.5 million through vacant property auctions“Penn researchers find auctions are a cost-effective method to redevelop vacant, blighted properties.” Michael Tanenbaum | PhillyVoice | February 19, 2015

West Virginia

WVU offers legal tools to combat blight of abandoned buildings“While the issue of vacant buildings in big cities has grabbed attention in recent years, Garvey said her team’s research found the problem is pervasive in many rural areas of West Virginia.” John Breslin | West Virginia Record | February 20, 2016

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

#LoveThatLot: A Valentine’s celebration for neighborhood revitalization champions in Baltimore
“In the spring and summertime, when the gardens come alive, the garden adds a sense of vitality to a neighborhood still struggling with vacancy and abandonment. It is a reflection of deep-felt community pride, reminding everyone who walks by that there are community residents who are committed to making this neighborhood a better place to live for everyone.”
Luke Telander | Center for Community Progress Blog | February 19, 2016