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!
Wall Street, America’s new landlord, kicks tenants to the curb“Now among America’s biggest landlords, some of these companies are leaving tenants like Allen in the cold. In a business long dominated by mom-and-pop landlords, large-scale investors are shifting collections conversations from front stoops to call centers and courtrooms as they try to maximize profits.”Prashant Gopal | Bloomberg | January 3, 2017
2,300 U.S. foreclosures show a racial divide in house decay “Each of these homes, among more than 2,300 foreclosures around the country visited by fair-housing testers between 2011 and 2015, sits in a census tract that is overwhelmingly nonwhite. Nonprofit housing advocacy groups allege in a federal district court lawsuit filed in California this month that the lender responsible for maintaining them, the quasi-government agency Fannie Mae, allowed them to deteriorate.” Emily Badger and Quoctrung Bui | New York Times | December 13, 2016
Fort Lauderdale ready to unload 56 vacant lots“The city hopes that’s about to change and new moderately priced single-family homes will start rising on the 56 lots sprinkled throughout the neighborhoods, often between existing homes. Once those homes go up, officials hope existing homeowners will do more to fix up their properties, too.” Larry Barszewski | Sun Sentinel | December 30, 2016
Kane County gets rid of blighted properties“’Once (a blighted house) comes down, the whole neighborhood changes and the price value goes up. It’s a win-win for the county. It’s imperative we stay on the situation,’ [Theresa Barreiro] said.” Gloria Casas | The Courier News | December 30, 2016
Louisville receives $30 million HUD grant for Russell revitalization“The grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will serve as a pivotal peg in the plan to spur new economic development and residential infill in the neighborhood currently beset with poverty, blight and crime.” Jacob Ryan | 89.3 WFPL | December 12, 2016
Shreveport working to get abandoned homes back on tax rolls“Shreveport City Councilman Jeff Everson noted one solution he thinks would make a huge difference – and that’s for the city to establish a redevelopment authority to help bring abandoned properties back to life.” Bia Roldan | KTBS 3 | December 28, 2016
Detroit’s massive blight elimination program still has a long way to go “Remnants of the roof and walls creaked, groaned and then crumpled to the ground Wednesday from what once was an industrial building that covered an entire city block, likely the last structure demolished this year under Detroit’s massive blight elimination program.” Corey Williams | Crain’s Detroit Business | December 28, 2016
Why Camden’s Parkside neighborhood has a spring in its step“The grant is expected to pay for some 100 homes to be demolished and another 100 to be rehabilitated, council members said Tuesday. Most of the renovations funded by the grant will take place at properties in the Sherman Park neighborhood.” Kevin Riordan | philly.com | December 20, 2016
City addresses abandoned properties “New Las Cruces City Manager Stuart C. Ed recently created the Neighborhood Action Team to address the issue of what to do with abandoned and vacant homes that result from situations ranging from fires to foreclosures to death. The NAT, composed of several high-level city officials and staff, has been tasked with identifying the properties and providing solutions.” Suzanne Michaels | Las Cruces Sun-News | December 27, 2016
Once vacant Newburgh homes get second chance“[Wayne Dodson] gestured across the street to three once-vacant houses turned into glittering single-family homes by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh. His words were short in quantity but long in depth. “It speaks for itself,” he said. “It’s beautiful.” Leonard Sparks | Times Herald-Record | December 23, 2016
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Vietnamese restaurant wins competition for lease in Edison Neighborhood “A modern Vietnamese restaurant will open in Washington Square’s largest vacant space after local developers won a competition designed to help revitalize the Edison Neighborhood area…In addition to receiving mentoring during the competition, the $30,000 in prizes will give Pho on the Block a better chance at staying power.” Malachi Barrett | mlive.com | November 30, 2016