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!
As storms get stronger, building codes are getting weaker“The shift toward less rigorous codes is driven by several factors, experts say: Rising anti-regulatory sentiment among state officials, and the desire to avoid anything that might hurt home sales and the tax revenue that goes with them.”Christopher Flavelle | Bloomberg Politics | March 19, 2018
School choice may be accelerating gentrification“Their finding adds to the already-contentious policy debates over school choice, gentrification, and segregation. And now another study, focusing on Charlotte, North Carolina, has come to similar conclusions: Housing prices spiked in areas where students were given new ability to switch schools away from one deemed failing.” Matt Barnum | The Atlantic | March 19, 2018
In a historic downtown, disaster becomes a chance to build something better“The rebuilding acted as a catalyst for smaller projects: removing outdated parking signs; improving streetscapes with sidewalks, lighting, and planters; and painting a scenic view of Clarkesville on a plain-looking brown building, enhancing the entrance to downtown.”Adina Solomon | CityLab | March 20, 2018
‘Detroit Rising’ podcast: Leveraging tech to track demolitions, neighborhood improvements“The Detroit Building Authority’s demo tracker contains a GPS-enabled interactive map of the city that shows block-by-block data on completed demolitions, structures that are contracted for removal or in the near-term pipeline to be torn down and new city building permits by address.” Chad Livengood | Crain’s Detroit Business | March 21, 2018
Barlow targets vacant homes in latest code enforcement push“‘The city I believe can send the right message by holding banks accountable, holding absentee landlords and absentee property owners accountable and making sure their properties are well kept and not detracting from the quality of life of others,’ [Mayor Billy] Barlow said.” Payne Horning | WRVO | March 19, 2018
Partnership with a purpose: Bringing new life to land bank sites “Prairie Township and the nonprofit Homes on the Hill have partnered in an effort to develop properties that were once tax-delinquent or occupied by structures that were uninhabitable and are now part of the township’s land bank.” Kelley Youman | ThisWeek | March 15, 2018
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Planting the seeds of a food forest in Philadelphia“[U]nlike at many community gardens, a food forest has an open door policy. ‘Anyone can come at any time of day and take whatever they want,’ says Michael Muehlbauer, the agricultural engineer and orchardist behind the Fair Amount Food Forest proposal. Whatever doesn’t get eaten by the community is harvested and donated.” Jen Kinney | Next City | March 20, 2018