Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – June 19, 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!

Bike Tour at RVP 2015 in Detroit, Michigan (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress, 2015)


A 341-page blight-fighting plan requires a lot of teamwork“‘One of the core intents of a blight elimination plan really should be trying to better coordinate existing capacities and resources,’ says Lewinski.” Cassie Owens | Next City *Underwritten by Community Progress | June 5, 2015

RealtyTrac: Zombie foreclosures increase in half of U.S. metros“While homeowner-vacated zombie foreclosures are improving across the country, they still remain, and are getting worse, in some top-foreclosure states like New Jersey and New York.” Brena Swanson | Housing Wire | June 11, 2015


How the ‘black tax’ destroyed African-American homeownership in Chicago“Racist property assessments and predatory tax-debt sales went hand-in-hand in Chicago. It came to be known as the ‘Black Tax.’” Kriston Capps | CityLab | June 11, 2015


How Detroit taught itself to demolish vacant houses safely“The city is scheduled Thursday to unveil a financing program aimed at helping residents become homeowners.”Cassie Owens | Next City *Underwritten by Community Progress | June 12, 2015

For sale: Detroit land bank seeks buyers for vacant houses“Fahle says Detroit’s land bank has perhaps more properties than any other in the world.” Jason Margolis | NPR | June 11, 2015

Genesee County Land Bank says it has demolished 1,800 houses since 2013
“‘It starts with taking down the empty places and replacing them with something that is green, that is beautiful,’ Kildee said.”
Blake Thorne | M Live | June 8, 2015

New York

Vacant Syracuse restaurant to become food business training center
“A vacant restaurant on Syracuse’s North Side will be turned into a food business management training center operated by Onondaga Community College.”
Rick Moriarty | Syracuse.com | June 9, 2015


Editorial: Land bank crucial step to progress
“Because it would be multijurisdictional under a countywide umbrella, it would be able to overcome the hurdles that often make land disposition so difficult.”
Editorial | The Times Tribune | June 7, 2015

Going once, going twice: Auction of blighted Philly lots is a big hit
“The unprecedented sale seemed to offer a lively and entirely unbureaucratic way to handle an otherwise onerous task.”
Tricia L. Nadolny | The Philadelphia Inquirer | June 14, 2015


Blight fight: Teams surveying Downtown properties in search of neglect“’What is the nature of the problem, the extent of the problem and where are the clusters that present the worst problems?’ said Barlow. ‘How do we get more bang for our buck by strategically enforcing codes where it can have the biggest impact?’” Amos Maki | Memphis Daily News | June 15, 2015

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Homes in Detroit – (Credit: Luke Telander for Center for Community Progress, 2015)

For Write A House winner, Detroit feels like home
“The pair envisioned a way to provide writers with housing, to help repopulate a Detroit neighborhood and to provide jobs for young construction workers and tradespeople, as they rehabilitate the houses.”
Laura Berman | The Detroit News | January 29, 2015