Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – July 24, 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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Photo Credit: Jen Leonard for Community Progress

Photo Credit: Jen Leonard for Community Progress


HUD announces $1 Billion competition for disaster recovery ideas“The latest contest in the federal government’s new competition-based approach to disaster resilience was announced today, this one aimed at communities recently struck by catastrophic events.” Will Doig | Next City | July 16, 2014

Are mega-investors changing rental housing?
“New management options emerge as major investment players settle into the single-family marketplace. Alan Mallach, a senior fellow at Center for Community Progress, shares his thoughts.”
Mariwyn Evans | | Realtor Magazine | July 16, 2014


City Limits: Chicago Harris’s Gary Project joins forces with a dynamic new mayor to reframe the Indiana steel town’s future“An icy wind blew down Broadway, the main street in Gary, Indiana.” Richard Mertens | The University of Chicago Magazine | July/August 2014
(Editor’s Note: Check out our interview with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson about her vision for reframing downtown Gary)


N. Lafayette redevelopment agency to come to life““It’s been six years since state legislation created an agency to address blight and redevelopment in north Lafayette, and it may finally be coming to life.” Richard Burgess | The Advocate | July 18, 2014


Commentary: Tax sales tax city“Baltimore City auctioned off more than $20 million worth of tax, water and other liens this spring in an online auction.”
Robin Jacobs | The Baltimore Sun | July 9, 2014


The post-post-apocalyptic Detroit“In downtown Detroit, at the headquarters of the online-mortgage company Quicken Loans, there stands another downtown Detroit in miniature.” Ben Austen | New York Magazine | July 11, 2014

Blight fight: Muskegon police spearhead effort to haul trash from alleys, abandoned homes“The clean-up crew affiliated with the Muskegon Police Department got a surprise when it returned to finish clearing trash from an alley behind Jiroch Street recently: Neighbors had beaten them to it.” Lynn Moore | M Live | July 16, 2014


Eyesore east of Troost becomes a model home in Kansas City“From the front porch of a newly painted house one can see an orchard of 95 apple, peach, pear, plum, nectarine and cherry trees, and anyone in the community can enjoy the fruit.” Lewis Diuguid | The Kansas City Star | July 5, 2014


Land bank could help neighborhoods with problem properties“Omaha, NE- More than 7,000 parcels in Omaha have some level of code violation. 700 of those structures have demolition orders and nearly 4,000 have been deemed “unfit” or “unsafe”, meaning they are uninhabitable and in need of significant repair.” Josh Egbert | KMTV | July 21, 2014

Omaha City Council OKs land bank as way to deal with dilapidated houses“Omahans paraded to the City Council podium Tuesday to support a municipal land bank, and the city council voted unanimously to create one.” Christopher Burbach | Omaha.com | July 23, 2014

New York

‘Zombie’ homes continue to gather weeds“The neighbors of “zombie” properties — homes abandoned by the owners and in foreclosure limbo with a lender — will have to wait a little longer to see them cleaned up.” Barbara Livingston Nackman | | lohud | July 11, 2014

Land bank in Newburgh, N.Y., tasked with fixing up decay“What we are saying when we create land banks is that vacant and abandoned properties are a form of litter, and it’s simply time to change the laws to stop littering.”
Ilya Marritz | NPR | July 7, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Photo credit: Chris Koch & Andrew Butcher

Photo credit: Chris Koch & Andrew Butcher

Tackling Pittsburgh’s blight problem, one small project at a time
“…Melanie Ondek, grants officer for the City of Pittsburgh, knows that multi-million dollar investments and lengthy bureaucratic processes aren’t the only ways to chip away at the city’s blight problem.”
Liz Reid | WESA | July 7, 2014