Headlines: All the latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – September 4, 2014

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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!

Photo Credit: Chelsea Allinger for Community Progress

Photo Credit: Chelsea Allinger for Community Progress


An urban revival in the rust belt“Experts say affordable housing, a slew of new investments in growing fields and stable workforces have put places like Buffalo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh back on the map for both new college grads and Rust Belt natives who left to find work but feel a tug back to the homefront.” Susan Milligan | US News and World Report | September 2, 2014


Opinion: Combating blight is a team effort“Whenever real progress has been made in attacking decay across our community, and plenty has been, it’s been because of strong alliances between city officials, agences, departments and actively engaged residents and neighborhoods.” Editorial | The Florida Times-Union | August 27, 2014


Column: Plans to speed demolition of abandoned houses are a step forward“Statistically in the U.S., abandoned properties tend to pull down values of neighboring homes, and increase crime rates and public-health and fire risks, according to Alan Mallach, senior fellow at the Center for Community Progress.” Mark Bennett | Tribune-Star | August 24, 2014

Indiana law leaves deceased people owning homes“It seems absurd; the dead can’t own property. Yet, title searches of vacant houses periodically name deceased people as the legal owner of record. And every year, local government sends them tax bills and legal notices.” Jessie Higgins | Evansville Courier & Press | August 23, 2014


Detroit and big data take on blight“The urban blight that has been plaguing Detroit was, until very recently, made worse by a dearth of information about the problem.” Susan Crawford | BloombergView | August 22, 2014


Fighting crime by literally cleaning up the streets“Jackson Police and Code Enforcement are fighting crime by transforming neighborhoods.” Roslyn Anderson | MS News Now | August 26, 2014

New Jersey

New bill would levy fines against creditors who fail to maintain vacant homes“In a show of bi-partisan support Democrat legislators and Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, have made law a bill that helps empower municipalities to take action against creditors who fail to maintain vacant properties.” Carlos Avila | The Trentonian | August 22, 2014


From vacant to vibrant: Cincinnati’s urban transformation“Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine section, which lies directly north of the city’s downtown, has seen a half-billion dollars’ worth of investment over the past decades.” Associated Press | Wall Street Journal | August 1, 2014

(Community Progress Note: Read more about Over-the-Rhine in our Placemaking in Legacy Cities: Opportunities and Good Practices.)


Blight poses challenges for distressed Pa. cities“Scranton is a city of 76,000 people with a housing stock largely built before 1940 for a population almost twice that number.” David Singleton | The Associated Press/Philly.com | August 31, 2014

Rhode Island

New program in Providence offers hope for abandoned properties“Despite falling numbers of distressed-property sales in Providence, the city still has a distressed-property problem. But under a new receivership program…” Christine Dunn | Providence Journal | August 31, 2014

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Photo Credit: Alan Mallach for Community Progress

Jericho Road Episcopal Housing Services in New Orleans. Photo Credit: Mike Brady for Community Progress


Pop-up produce stand wins top prize in contest for reuse of vacant commerical lots in New Orleans
“A pop-up produce stand planned for an empty lot in the Lower 9th Ward won the Lots of Progress contest for ideas on using vacant commercial property on Tuesday, taking both the judges’ top prize and an audience favorite vote for a total of $5,634 to advance its cause.”
Mark Waller | The Times Picayune | August 19, 2014