Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – July 1, 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!

Homes and Gardens in Richmond, VA (Credit:Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress, 2015)


Did Treasury waste its bailout funds on fighting blight?“There may or may not be enormous costs savings to be found in better demolitions procurements, though. But there is a substantial benefit to be gain by continuing to invest TARP dollars on demolition activity.” Kriston Capps | CityLab | June 22, 2016

Harvard’s national housing report has bad news for renters“The price of rentals is on the rise, increasing numbers of people are choosing to rent rather than buy, and more and more people are struggling to cover the costs of housing each month, even as the economy continues to climb out of the recession’s holeKelsey E. Thomas | Next City | June 22, 2016

How housing’s new players spiraled into banks’ old mistakes“Some private equity firms that came in as the cleanup crew for the housing crisis are now repeating errors that banks committed, while others are bypassing the working poor.” Matthew Goldstein, Rachel Abrams, and Ben Protess | New York Times | June 26, 2016

How a house can shape a child’s future“One of the most important findings they came across was that the amount of time a child spent living in housing units that were tax delinquent, in foreclosure, or owned by a speculator had significant effects on kindergarten readiness.” Alexia Fernandez Campbell | The Atlantic | June 29, 2016


Nobody home: How legal corporate secrecy harmed one Atlanta neighborhood“With the support of business and government leaders, state legislatures across the nation have passed laws that make it harder for the public to identify the people behind LLCs — and who to blame when these companies do wrong.” Willoughby Mariano | Atlanta Journal-Constitution | June 15, 2016


New Orleans seeks solutions to rising rents“The New Orleans Redevelopment Authority’s report mirrors recent ones that say renters in the city have become more cost-burdened in recent years.” New Orleans City Business | June 21, 2016


This neighborhood wants a new restaurant, café or coffee shop “It is inviting local food-based entrepreneurs to compete for the opportunity to start or relocate a business in a key location as part of ongoing efforts to revitalize the area.” Al Jones | M Live | June 22, 2016

Vacant Pontiac Central High to be transformed into machinery repair facility“The long-vacant Pontiac Central High School will be refurbished as a machinery repair and training facility, bringing about 200 jobs to the cityAnne Runkle | The Oakland Press | June 16, 2016

Detroit is turning vacant lots into sponges for stormwater “In Detroit, where the available space exceeds the current market demand, environmental interventions are playing out on particularly large scales.” Jessica Leigh Hester | CityLab | June 24, 2016

New York

Opinion: Land bank is paying dividends for Suffolk County“It’s just as important to celebrate fresh, creative approaches to intractable problems. Suffolk County’s new land bank program is one such innovation.” Editorial | Newsday | June 20, 2016

Gov. Cuomo signs new law tackling zombie property blight in NY“With this trend growing, the state passed new legislation, hoping to tackle zombie property blight across the state.”Jackson Wang | TWC News Central NY | June 23, 2016


South Memphis demolition marks the start of new blight program“The program targets individual problem houses in otherwise stable neighborhoods for demolition.” Linda A. Moore | Commercial Appeal | June 22, 2016


Urban farmers create healing space for Dallas veterans“‘Basically, we bring guys in who are struggling and reintegrate them through agricultural or dirt therapy, recreational therapy or actual therapy, here on the farm with a guy who does trauma resolution and memory resolution.'” Linda A. Moore | Commercial Appeal | June 22, 2016

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

“This Home Is Not For Sale” project (Credit: Bruce Silcox)

“This Home Is Not For Sale” project (Credit: Bruce Silcox)

Exploring foreclosure through art“In Minneapolis and Boston, artists help explore the losses (and gains) of foreclosure, supporting advocacy, and community-building.”Lillian M. Ortiz | Shelterforce | June 17, 2016