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Madison Gharghoury, Development Associate and Special Assistant to the President/CEO

Vacant Properties

The True Costs to Communities

Published: August 2005

Author(s): National Vacant Properties Campaign

By all accounts, vacant properties are a curse. Just ask anyone who lives next to a boarded-up firetrap or a trash-filled lot. But abandonment often seems beyond the control of local officials, and it rarely incites a sense of urgency beyond the neighbors on the block where it occurs. But the evidence shows that vacant properties are an expense that local governments simply cannot afford – and that the expense grows with every year a property remains vacant or abandoned. Such properties produce no or little property tax income, but they require plenty of time, attention, and money.

Compiling research from communities across the country, this 2005 report examines the overall impacts vacant and abandoned properties have on communities. It looks at the many costs – including city services (nuisance abatement, crime and fire prevention), increased neighborhood blight, and decreased property values and tax revenues. This report also includes some good news: communities are finding ways to recapture the value in vacant properties, bringing vitality back to once blighted neighborhoods. These communities are providing valuable lessons for us all, and many of the most successful practices are being replicated throughout the country. We highlight stabilization and revitalization efforts in places like Genesee County, Michigan; Richmond, Virginia; and St. Louis, Missouri to combat the growing costs of vacant properties.

Published: August 2005

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