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

New Haven, Connecticut (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress,  2014)

New Haven, Connecticut (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress, 2014)

National

Advice for newly elected officials about vacant and abandoned properties“Kim Graziani has some advice for newly elected officials, by way of a little perspective from Leslie Knope.”James Brasuell | Planetizen | November 5, 2015

Georgia

Macon-Bibb residents offer ideas for neighborhood blight projects“The nine members of the County Commission each have $1 million that can be spent on blight projects.” Stanley Dunlap | Macon Telegraph | November 16, 2015

Illinois

Time to wage war on illegal dumping on south side, Ald. Lopez says“During the summer, he received three to five reports a day of new dump sites. He said there are more than 600 vacant lots and 850 abandoned buildings.” Andrea V. Watson | DNAinfo | November 9, 2015

Indiana

Project plans to build homes for vets on blighted properties“A new initiative called Home For Good is packing a two-fold punch: providing military families housing while helping neighborhoods get rid of blight.” Jessica R. Key | Indianapolis Recorder | November 13, 2015

Blight Inc.: How our government helps investors profit from neighborhood decay“An Indianapolis Star investigation has found that, increasingly, the empty house next door is not owned by a bank or an individual, but by one of many investors, often from out of state, who are enticed by the prospects of cheap homes that can be purchased — sight unseen and in bulk — at government tax sales.” Brian Eason | Indianapolis Star | November 14, 2015

Louisiana

Property blight costs communities“Property blight has long plagued the residents of Shreveport and its surrounding areas and costs residents thousands of dollars a year to clean up — whether they live directly next to a blighted area or not.” Lex Talamo | Shreveport Times | November 4, 2015

Maryland

Report questions Vacants to Value data“A new report obtained by the 11 News I-Team raises new questions about Baltimore City’s much-touted program to rehab vacant houses.” Jayne Miller| WBAL TV | November 12, 2015

EDITORIAL: A creative solution to Baltimore’s vacants problem“The city has recognized the importance of promoting the arts and minimizing vacant properties. Pairing the initiatives can help to serve each of them.” Colin Alexander | Baltimore Sun | November 14, 2015

Michigan

EDITORIAL: Through the doors of 7124 Tuxedo“And the journey to figure out what can be done has sent me along a path that, while deeply personal, mirrors Detroit’s broader struggle to discern the futures for thousands of houses, in dozens of forgotten neighborhoods.” Stephen Henderson | Detroit Free Press | November 8, 2015

EDITORIAL: Don’t slow Detroit’s blight fight“For the first time, those of us involved in the fight against blight feel a wind at our back… [I]n the interest of our neighborhoods, we shouldn’t tie Duggan’s hands when it comes to fighting blight.” John George | Detroit Free Press | November 12, 2015

New Jersey

N.J. towns tackle abandoned homes as ‘zombie foreclosures’ climb“Zombie foreclosures have fallen 43% nationwide in the past year, but in New Jersey they have increased 28.6% […] exacerbated by the lingering issues related to superstorm Sandy.” (Readability tip: Google the headline and click on the article in search results to avoid the paywall and access full article text)Kate King | Wall Street Journal | November 10, 2015

Ohio

Land Trust Program renovates four formerly troubled South Euclid homes for resale
“The program is eligible to those who meet income guidelines…The homes, once-foreclosed upon and subsequently listed on the roster of the Cuyahoga Land Bank, are renovated by the non-profit NHS using funds from a few sources.” Jeff Piorkowski | Cleveland.com | November 9, 2015

Lessons from Cuyahoga County on land banking
“Organizers created a three-tier process that first established the [land] bank as a separate, non-governmental entity; then overhauled the area’s foreclosure law; and eventually funded itself without taxpayer support.”
Sean Ray | WESA | November 12, 2015

Pennsylvania

Blight boot camp in Pittsburgh fills vacant spaces with possibilities
“More than 150 people registered for the boot camp, which offered speakers, panel discussions, one-on-one blight consultations and breakout sessions on fighting blight.”
Aaron Aupperlee | Trib LIVE | November 7, 2015

Ideas Worth Stealing: A competition to bring urban innovation to forgotten properties
“While some cities, like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, are working on ways to make redevelopment easier and faster, a broad competition encompassing various parcels could bring in fresh ideas and drive the rebirth of the Commonwealth’s urban centers in new directions.”
Irina Zhorov | WESA | November 4, 2015

Virginia

Study links Richmond mortgage denials to race“Black borrowers in Richmond are less likely to be approved for home loans and refinancing than white applicants regardless of their income levels, according to a study by fair-housing advocates.” Ned Oliver | Richmond Times-Dispatch | November 18, 2015

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Prospect Avenue Mural (Credit Fox 4 KC)

Prospect Avenue Mural (Credit Fox 4 KC)

Art projects aim to transform image of Prospect Corridor
“’Art speaks very loudly to a community that might feel like it`s forgotten. It shows there`s still pride in this area. There`s still a commitment to beautify this area,’ Samuelson said.”
Sean McDowell | Fox 4 KC | November 6, 2015