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!
One of the first steps in tackling Detroit’s housing crisis? Mapping it.“Now, through a two-year, $1 million grant from JPMorgan Chase, Western Reserve Land Conservancy is bringing Loveland’s data-mapping tools to Ohio’s three largest cities — ¬Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati — with the intent of creating dashboards similar to Motor City Mapping.” Kathy Orton | Washington Post | May 29, 2016
Hard-pressed Rust Belt cities go green to aid urban revival“The idea is to turn scrubby, trash-strewn vacant lots into vegetable gardens, tree farms, stormwater management parks, and pocket prairies that make neighborhoods both more livable and more sustainable.” Winifred Bird | Yale Environment 360 | May 31, 2016
District of Columbia
DC has way more vacant properties than it thinks“The official count of vacant and blighted properties in DC is about 1,200, but in reality, there are likely many more. The reasons for the discrepancy? A number of loopholes in the system for counting these properties, and not enough staff to close them.” David Sheon and David Gottfried | Greater Greater Washington | May 18, 2016
OPINION: Time to fight blight : Neighborhoods need more tools to combat dilapidated houses, illegal dumping“Blight is a complex and frustrating problem and causes multiple harmful effects.” Elizabeth Whitmore | Creative Loafing | May 26, 2016
Legislation proposed to help municipalities battle blight“State Rep. Carlos Gonzalez of Springfield is crafting legislation that would set a 30-day deadline in Massachusetts to register the transfer of ownership of a property.” Paul Tuthill | WAMC | May 25, 2016
State proposes Hardest Hit Fund use to replace pipes “The state may pursue using federal blight removal funding to pay for the elimination of lead service lines in the city.” Jacob Carah | Detroit News | May 26, 2016
Sites of demolished Detroit homes used to soak up water“Detroit’s water department and Land Bank Authority as well as the University of Michigan turned four vacant city lots into gardens designed to corral stormwater.” Charles E. Ramirez and Christine Ferretti | Detroit News | May 19, 2016
Does Portland need a ‘zombie home’ czar?“In a hot housing market like Portland, Mends-Cole says, the city has a great opportunity to turn problem homes into community assets, if the political will can be mustered.” Peter Korn | Portland Tribune | May 24, 2016
Assembly passes bill requiring banks to maintain ‘zombie’ houses“The State Assembly has passed a bill intended to crack down on zombie homes by forcing banks to maintain vacant houses before they are foreclosed.” Carl MacGowan | NewsDay | May 25, 2016
Building a big dream on a tiny slip of land“As the Land Bank razed the 348-square-foot house, cleared the property and laid grass seed, LakewoodAlive, a community-centered non-profit organization focused on maintaining vibrant neighborhoods in Lakewood, took notice.” Karin Connelly Rice | Freshwater Cleveland | May 23, 2016
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Vacant Home Tour changes the conversation around vacancy in Wilkinsburg“In its second year, the Vacant Home Tour tells the story behind several vacant homes and businesses, reminding visitors of the rich history of the neighborhood, and inviting participants to view properties as opportunities instead of liabilities.” Luke Telander | Center for Community Progress | May 23, 2016