Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – June 8, 2017

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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!

Charles E. Urdy Plaza – Rhapsody in Austin, Texas (Credit: Wally Gobetz, flickr, 2012)


The cruelest cut in Trump’s housing budget “The Housing Trust Fund is not remotely adequate for solving the growing problem of worst-case housing needs. But it was a flexible funding source, driven by local partners to help families with few to no other options: low-income seniors, families with disabilities, Native American communities with substandard housing options, and other vulnerable populations. In many communities, it served as a source of gap funding to create more-deeply affordable housing in inclusionary developments.”Kriston Capps | CityLab | May 23, 2017


Appeals court deals setback to L.A. mortgage discrimination suits against big banks“The lawsuits rely on an argument known as disparate impact — the idea that a policy can lead to illegal discrimination even if, on its face, the policy does not appear to be discriminatory. The trouble in the Los Angeles cases, the 9th Circuit justices said, is that the city did not draw a clear connection between the racial disparities in mortgage lending and policies or practices at the banks.”James Rufus Koren | Los Angeles Times | May 30, 2017


Maryland adopts fast-track foreclosure law“The new Maryland law accelerates the foreclosure process to as little as six months in certain situations, enabling a mortgage servicer in many cases to get possession of the property before it deteriorates and increasing the likelihood it can be rehabilitated and sold.”Patrick Barnard | MortgageOrb | June 5, 2017

New Jersey

APP investigation ‘Renter Hell’ prompts legislation“The bill will give new powers to the state to crack down on unscrupulous landlords who hide behind shell companies and refuse to fix deplorable housing, all while collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in publicly funded rent subsidies, said state Sen. Jennifer Beck, R-Monmouth, who is co-sponsoring the bill with Sen. Ronald Rice, D-Essex.”Payton Guion | app.com | May 25, 2017

New York

Blight fighters tout impact of New York land banks“A new report from the New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA) details and quantifies some of the work that’s been done by the state’s land banks in their first five years of operation.”Rachel Dovey | Next City | May 25, 2017

City of Olean talks residential inspections for the first time in years “Under the first draft of the ordinance, [Nick] DiCerbo said one- and two-unit properties, including owner-occupied homes and commercial properties, would be inspected biannually, three-unit properties inspected annually and properties with four or more units would see individual units inspected at every vacancy.”Bob Clark | Olean Times Herald | May 25, 2017


In Portland, an experiment to make real estate investment affordable for all “The property has about $450,000 in equity. Investors can buy in for as little as $10 per month and a maximum of $100 per month. Tenant rent is used to pay the mortgage and property expenses. Whatever’s leftover is paid out as annual dividends. Over time, as the mortgage principal is paid down and if the building value appreciates, the shares will pay out higher dividends.”Josh Cohen | Next City | May 30, 2017


Philadelphia wants to remedy an urban renewal failure“Amy Laura Cahn, an attorney who’s been helping [Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition] since its inception and author of the study “On Retiring Blight as Policy and Making Eastwick Whole,” acknowledged that competing factions are inherent in all neighborhoods, especially those as big and complicated as Eastwick. But she said putting residents’ interests and concerns at the center of the process is fundamental, and undertakings like the one happening in Eastwick are critical.” Jared Brey | Next City | June 5, 2017

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Shannon Roae, Meadville Times)

Redevelopment Authority, investors working to address Meadville’s blight“The RDA, using funds from a $250,000 redevelopment fund authorized less than a year ago by City Council, is providing assistance in the rehabilitation of two previously unoccupied Park Avenue houses in need of major improvements. Work on these houses joins the RDA’s recently announced Entrepreneur Accelerator Grant Program as the earliest visible results of the redevelopment fund. The grant program will offer up to $10,000 to new business start-ups in the city.”Mike Crowley | The Meadville Tribune | May 29 2017