Community Progress Blog

Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties – July 27, 2018

Written by on July 27, 2018

This is our twice-monthly round-up of news stories covering challenges related to vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated 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!

Mural in Iowa City, Iowa. (Credit: Alan Light, flickr, 2018)

National

Turning vacant lots into green spaces can improve mental health. Here’s how 
“‘Vacant lot greening is a very simple structural intervention that’s relatively low-cost and that can have a potentially wide or broad population impact,’ says study co-author Dr. Eugenia South, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. ‘Performing simple interventions to the neighborhood environment has an impact on health.'” 
Jamie Ducharme | Time | July 20, 2018

An unlikely group of billionaires and politicians has created the most unbelievable tax break ever 
“If everything goes right, a big slice of the estimated $6.1 trillion of paper profits currently resting on American balance sheets is about to go to work to revitalize America’s depressed communities. If all goes wrong, however, it will prove to be one of the biggest tax giveaways in American history, all in service of gentrifying neighborhoods and expelling local residents.”  
Steven Bertoni | Forbes | July 18, 2018

Alabama

Initiative to repair owner-occupied homes throughout Birmingham 
“‘Our plan is to bundle our work to transform entire blocks instead of renovating one home on a street surrounded by other blight,’ Mayor Randall Woodfin said. ‘This reaffirms our commitment to giving all 99 neighborhoods a fresh start.'”
Stephanie Rebman | Birmingham Business Journal | July 18, 2018

Mapping blight: How Montgomery plans to use mapping tech to help revitalize the city  
“Officials say they will create a map of all state-owned tax sale properties in Montgomery. Once complete, the database is supposed to give city officials a way to catalog some of the city’s most troubled areas and deploy different solutions to help tame the problem.”   
Brian Edwards | Montgomery Advertiser | July 13, 2018

California

L.A.’s incentive for urban farming fails to take root
“Supporters of the [Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) Act] were optimistic that many owners of more than 8,000 eligible lots in the city would jump at the tax break. It would be a compelling incentive for them to turn unused parcels of land into something productive for the community. The reality has been different: So far, only four lots have received a tax break under the program.”   
Ludwig Hurtado | CityLab | July 24, 2018

Kentucky

Chef Space eyes turning abandoned properties into retail food shops
“Chef Space helps early stage food entrepreneurs develop and grow their businesses and move out into the real world. President Andrew Held said he’s trying to work with the city to rehab vacant properties in the community into retail food shops.”  
Gil Corsey | WDRB 41 | July 26, 2018

Michigan

Detroit Land Bank buyback program gives residents second chance at home ownership
“The program not only provides an opportunity for homeownership, participants are given homeownership and financial counseling courses, then partnered with a local non-profit that will provide resources and guidance.”   
Branden Hunter | Michigan Chronicle | July 17, 2018

Puerto Rico

After storm, foreclosures in Puerto Rico stopped. They’re starting again.
“The filings are some of the first in Puerto Rico since several federal agencies — including the U.S.D.A. — imposed moratoriums on new foreclosures and legal actions in existing cases after the hurricane devastated the island’s electrical grid. But the moratoriums have begun to expire, setting the stage for what housing advocates have feared could be a wave of home foreclosures in the United States territory of 3.4 million people.”
Matthew Goldstein | The New York Times | July 15, 2018

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Bob Perkoski)

Let there be blight: Rooms to Let will transform soon-to-be-demolished homes into art
“Funded by the Cleveland Foundation, the project will empower members of the community to temporarily redesign public areas in the neighborhood into the places they’ve always wanted—such as a diner, mini-market, record store, and “parklets” (micro hangout nooks nestled into spaces the size of a parking spot).”
Tricia Chaves | FreshWater | July 26, 2018

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