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!
Trump wants to eliminate the federal program that oversees long-term hurricane relief “In May, President Donald Trump announced that he wanted to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Block Grant Program, which administers about $3 billion a year to local communities for programs like Meals on Wheels…But the Community Block Grant Program has also managed more than $50 billion in taxpayer dollars since 1993 to help with long-term disaster relief.”Alex Daugherty | Miami Herald | September 21, 2017
When will Fresno’s promised rental inspection program begin? “The program, which includes creating a database of properties and tenant education, was proposed to start in September. But housing activists, tenants and property owners say they have heard little about the plan or what to expect once the inspections begin.”Bonhia Lee | The Fresno Bee | October 5, 2017
Long Beach program would give tax breaks for urban farms plotted on vacant lots“‘We know we have vacant lots that have remained vacant for some 20 years; they are a strain on our code enforcement, a blight on our corridors and our neighborhoods,” [Vice Mayor Rex Richardson] said on Tuesday. “And we also know on the other hand urban agriculture is exciting … it really inspires people to really get involved in their neighborhoods.'”Courtney Tomkins | Press-Telegram | October 5, 2017
Are those new neighbors driving up your property tax bill? Help could be coming “Lexington is exploring starting a program that would help pay portions of property tax bills for poor, longtime homeowners in neighborhoods attracting investment and redevelopment. Under the proposed program, longtime homeowners with little income who face a hefty increase in their property tax bill because of gentrification could get financial help from the city.”Beth Musgrave | Lexington Herald Leader | September 26, 2017
Persistent evictions threaten Detroit neighborhoods“[The Detroit News] analyzed nearly 285,000 eviction cases since 2009 — the first time this data has ever been examined — and found, for example, that in 2015 alone, the vast majority of landlords who took their renters to court were themselves operating illegally.” Christine MacDonald | The Detroit News | October 5, 2017
Affordable-housing project brings jobs for Newburgh residents“Creating jobs for other Newburgh residents desperate for work is one goal of a Newburgh Community Land Bank-driven project taking shape in Newburgh’s East End. Affordable-housing developer RUPCO is turning 15 long-vacant properties into dozens of affordable apartments, and using Libolt as general contractor.” Leonard Sparks | Times Herald-Record | October 8, 2017
Aiken crafting plan to address city’s nuisance properties “‘… We think those three ordinances are meaningful: a real rental registration process; a process that allows us to eliminate boarded-up, uninhabitable buildings that are ruining our neighborhoods; and a staff, at least that’s minimally acceptable, to address the concerns we have could bring us to the next level,’ [Aiken City Manager John Klimm] said Monday.” Christina Cleveland | Aiken Standard | October 1, 2017
Report finds direct link between housing and school segregation in Richmond region “Neighborhoods have an impact on a child’s development and future success. ‘School segregation flows from residential segregation,’ the report says. ‘When school officials draw attendance boundaries around the neighborhoods closest to a school, existing segregation in those neighborhoods will likely be replicated in schools.'” Justin Mattingly | Richmond Times-Dispatch | September 24, 2017
Pop-up shops eyed to fill downtown Janesville vacancies “They’re called pop-up shops, and they’re a way for residents to test the waters of full-time business, for the city to market downtown and for property owners to make use of empty buildings, [Doug Marklein] said.” Jake Magee | GazetteXtra | October 1, 2017
And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!
Fighting the blight: Local artists breathe new life into downtown wall with mural “For the past few days, local artists have been breathing new life into a wall — that was once decaying and marked with graffiti — with bright colors and a message about fighting blight.” Alex Knisely | timesreporter.com | September 29, 2017