Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – July 10, 2014

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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.)

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Neighborhood of the Arts, Rochester, NY (Credit: Flickr user docgeorge)

Neighborhood of the Arts, Rochester, NY (Credit: Flickr user docgeorge)


Obama administration expands affordable housing plan“The Obama administration said on Thursday it would tap Treasury funds to bolster the construction of affordable rental housing and extend the life of a program aimed at helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.” Elvina Nawaguna | Reuters | June 26, 2014

Vacant-house fakery reborn as Cleveland to Camden fight blight
“If the technique that Toepfer calls aesthetic board-up is a stopgap, it’s a cheap one, costing just $500 to $1000 per property, a fraction of demolition costs.”
Elise Young/Bloomberg News | Chicago Tribune | July 5, 2014


L.A. foreclosure registry struggles to keep track of vacant homes“California’s real estate market may be bouncing back, but many communities are still littered with run-down foreclosures.” Steven Cuevas | The California Report | June 26, 2014


City looking to reduce number of vacant properties“[City leaders] estimate there’s 12,000 vacant properties in Jacksonville alone.” Samuel King | CBS47 WTEV | July 7, 2014


Can a poor Chicago neighborhood be reborn as a national park?“An emerging trend in urban economic development has civic boosters turning to the National Park Service for support.”
Sam Worley | Next City | July 7, 2014

For sale: Vacant lots on Chicago blocks, just $1 each“Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block.” David Schaper | NPR | July 2, 2014


Editorial: Let municipalities create land banks“The South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority is working well in Chicago’s south suburbs. Northwest Indiana needs something similar…” The Times Editorial Board | Times Media Company | June 30, 2014

Fort Wayne awarded $4.7 million to demolish and develop vacant properties“The money is coming from the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP), which is a fund designed to give money to communities hit hard with vacant and blighted property.”Ian Hoover | INCNow NBC 33 | June 26, 2014


This Dubuque, Iowa master plan is a Rust Belt victory“Decades of planning for a once-blighted section of Dubuque, Iowa are bearing fruit.” Andrew Dresdner | Planetizen | July 3, 2014


Vacant hospitals face uncertain future“Many floors of Charity Hospital in New Orleans are somewhat of a time capsule of the day the facility was evacuated in August 2005 because of Katrina flooding: beds still unmade and IV poles still standing.” Marsha Shuler | The Advocate | June 25, 2014


Online house auction raises $1M so far for Detroit“The city’s plan to auction abandoned homes in neighborhoods has raised more than $1 million in revenue, city officials said Thursday.” Darren A. Nichols | The Detroit News | June 26, 2014

Detroit needs residents, but sends some packing“Tax foreclosures have grown so steeply that county officials have lately had to forgo pursuing tens of thousands of additional properties that have fallen far enough behind to risk foreclosure.” Monica Davey | The New York Times | June 26, 2014


Collapse a wake-up call: Chief exec wants another enforcement officer hired“Chief Executive Matt Vincent called the warehouse collapse on South Wyoming Street a wake-up call Wednesday night, telling commissioners it’s time to get tougher on owners of dilapidated buildings.” Mike Smith | The Montana Standard | July 3, 2014

New Jersey

Vacant buildings remain a blight to Jersey City neighborhoods“Jersey City has 849 vacant buildings, ‘the highest concentration in low-income sections of the city,’ according to Darice Toon, the city’s director of community development.” Ken Thorbourne | The Jersey Journal | June 27, 2014

Editorial: Effort by Isles to inventory Trenton’s vacant, dilapidated houses provides starting point for progress“As part of its decades of service to Trention, Isles Inc. has launched an effort to conduct an inventory of abandoned and dilapidated housing.” Matt Dowling/Times of Trenton | NJ.com | June 30, 2014


Pittsburgh land bank brings new tools to city’s blight problem“With Pittsburgh’s new land bank, established in April, Guy hopes to reduce her workload and tap the neighborhood’s potential more easily.” Irina Zhorov | 90.5 WESA | July 1, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Credit: Clint McMahon, Flickr user clintw

Credit: Clint McMahon, Flickr user clintw

Eight inspiring urban revitalization projects
“Across the country, communities are rallying to beautify their public spaces, transforming abandoned concrete, metal and brick into vibrant city landmarks.”
Feifei Sun | NationSwell | June 25, 2014