Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – September 28, 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!

Homes in St. Louis, Missouri (Credit: Christine Henske, flickr, 2011)


How housing intensifies the racial wealth gap “What’s remarkable is that the housing bubble and the Great Recession essentially erased all of the relative gains in black household wealth from the 1990s. The lesson of the last 20 years seems to be that encouraging greater homeownership is not just ineffective in reducing the racial wealth gap, but is actually counterproductive.” Joe Cortright | CityLab | September 22, 2017

District of Columbia

D.C. failed to enforce law on vacant and blighted homes, audit says“The city is missing out on millions in tax revenue for failing to properly classify vacant and blighted buildings. But [Kathy] Patterson says that in looking at just a small sample of houses in 2015 — 31 out of roughly 1,500 vacant and blighted homes across the city — it became clear that DCRA has fallen short on enforcing many elements of the law.”Martin Austermuhle | WAMU | September 21, 2017


HUD approves demolition of contaminated West Calumet Housing Complex“Residents raised issues with the demolition plan, including contaminated material being dispersed through the air during the work and potential groundwater runoff that could impact the neighborhood around the complex.”Craig Lyons | Chicago Tribune | September 21, 2017


Demolition underway at site of Flint co-op grocery store“Demolition with funding from the Genesee County Land Bank should be completed by November, with construction slated to begin in spring 2018 at the site in the old Ross Plaza that include an oil change business and office building that have been empty for years.” Roberto Acosta | mLive | September 25, 2017

New housing developments in Detroit now required to have 20% affordable housing units “Housing developers who receive a certain threshold of public subsidies or discounted city-owned land in Detroit will now be required to set aside at least 20% of their units for lower income residents, after the city council voted to approve two affordable housing ordinances Tuesday.” Katrease Stafford | The Detroit Free Press | September 19, 2017

$27.5 million goes to Detroit neighborhoods for equitable development “Titled “The Platform Neighborhood Initiative,” their joint funds will focus on both affordable housing and market-rate apartments in areas outside of downtown and Midtown, where development is already taking place.” Rachel Dovey | Next City | September 18, 2017


Why Houston housing is poised to get more expensive and unequal“Those same developments and freeways are what also paved the way for Houston’s unprecedented flooding from Harvey. They also set Houston’s most socially and financially vulnerable families up for an uneven or redlined recovery, especially given that rents will likely no longer be affordable for many after this storm.” Brentin Mock | CityLab | September 18, 2017

West Virginia

Huntington City Council approves changes to unsafe building ordinance “With the updated ordinance, in the absence of the property owner, a code enforcement agency is given the authority to obtain an administrative search warrant from a municipal or magistrate judge for the purpose of determining whether or not the structure is considered an unsafe building.”Josephine Mendez | The Herald-Dispatch | September 26, 2017

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Rendering of the Nancy Maldonado/Paseo Boricua Arts Center (Credit: Next City)

Chicago community replies to gentrification with inclusive arts space  “The center will replace four derelict buildings — including the former site of the long-vacant Ashland Sausage Company — and provide housing for about 30 artists. One- and two-bedroom apartments will double as studios where they can work and showcase their pieces. A 100-seat theater and gallery will be on the ground level.”Serena Maria Daniels | Next City | September 19, 2017