Headlines – The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – January 30, 2015

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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!

Detroit urban garden: Credit Luke Telander for the Center for Community Progress

Detroit urban garden: Credit Luke Telander for the Center for Community Progress


4 cities step up fight against blight“Cities across the country continue to look for ways to tackle blight.” Alexis Stephens | Next City | January 26, 2015


‘Zombie Properties’ get artistic makeovers in Humboldt Park“A small crew of construction workers in one such area aims to reverse that problem with “artistic board-ups” — visually interesting or creative alternatives to the plywood and raw beams often used to secure vacant properties.” Darryl Holliday | DNAinfo | January 23, 2015

Should urban universities help their neighbors?
“The program that helped Samuels buy his home, called employer-assisted housing, is one tool that the University of Chicago is using to try and mend the neighborhoods that surround it.”
Alana Semuels | The Atlantic  | January 19, 2015


A shattered foundation: African Americans who bought homes in Prince George’s have watched their wealth vanish“Today, the nation’s highest-income majority-black county stands out for a different reason — its residents have lost far more wealth than families in neighboring, majority-white suburbs.” Michael Fletcher | Washington Post  | January 24, 2015

How to paint a ‘love letter’ to a city
“We engage and we learn, and ultimately we head out to a wall and figure out what fits—in every way. Painting is the easy part.”
Shauna Miller | CityLab | January 19, 2015

City to take earlier, more aggressive approach to abandoned houses
“A law set to take effect next month will allow Baltimore officials to take over an abandoned home earlier than currently allowed, when an empty property begins to show signs of neglect but before it has a chance to fall into the level of disrepair that risks dragging down the entire neighborhood.”
Yvonne Wenger | The Baltimore Sun | January 25, 2015


Opinion: It’s time to demystify the process of acquiring land in the city of Detroit “One such problem facing many residents and small organizations is the lack of understanding about how to acquire land in the city of Detroit.”Jill Ferrari | Model D Media | January 20, 2015

New plan to get rid of blight in Detroit involves court system
“For the first time, there is a bold plan in place to rid the Motor City of blight and the legal system is a key component.” Ronnie Dahl | WXYZ | January 16, 2015

Detroit side-lot sales a win for homeowners and the city
“The results could be positive on many fronts: getting these lots back on tax rolls, getting a handle on blight and clearing up the title to numerous parcels that have been in legal limbo for years.”
John Gallagher | Detroit Free Press | January 19, 2015

New Jersey

Camden eyes safety, crime in vacant home demolition effort while neighbors question future“The idea of the two-part project is to eradicate dangerous eyesores while giving criminals one less place to call homebase.” Greg Adomaitis | South Jersey Times | January 20, 2015

New York

Syracuse land bank expected to offer half-price homes to cops, firefighters, teachers
“The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is expected to announce a new program Tuesday that will allow Syracuse police officers, firefighters and school teachers to buy land bank houses in the city for half price as long as they live in them for at least five years.”
Tim Knauss | Syracuse.com | January 19, 2015

Deconstruction, instead of demolition, proves fruitful“They found that there is [a market for old architectural items] — with over $20,000 worth of these items resold to the local community.” Ellen Abbott | WRVO | January 23, 2015


Teamwork of businesses, nonprofits renews Cleveland neighborhood“A renovation and resale effort that began in 2013 and was led by to for-profit businesses and two nonprofit groups has proved fruitful and could be duplicated elsewhere in the state.” Mark Ferenchik | The Columbus Dispatch | January 26, 2015

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Hector Casanova for the Kansas City Art Institute)

(Credit: Hector Casanova for the Kansas City Art Institute)

Blight made beautiful: Mural project tags abandoned school with art, not graffiti
“Juan Osorio, a Kansas City Art Institute student, stood outside an abandoned elementary school on a cold, gray Wednesday afternoon, putting final touches on a colorful image blending classic with contemporary.”
Joshua Roberts | Kansas City Star | December 9, 2014