Community Progress Blog

Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – April 13, 2017

Written by on April 13, 2017

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!

State Street in Albany, New York (Credit: J. Stephen Conn, flickr user, 2009)


Why housing policy should be health policy 
“Even though much U.S. housing policy emerged with the idea of improving health, [Joseph] Schilling says that we lose sight of that aim when we measure blight elimination solely by property values and poverty rates.” 
Andrew Small | CityLab | April 12, 2017


San Francisco now has a one-stop shop to invest in fighting displacement
“It’s about balancing affordability with financial sustainability. Even the new community-oriented owners need to pay for upkeep of the buildings while also making payments on short-term loans for acquisition, rehab and maintenance. Once acquisition and any rehab and maintenance are complete, and the building is settled in at its new, still-affordable rent levels, affordable housing developers typically refinance any debt with long-term loans at very cheap rates from the city.”
Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | April 4, 2017


In Georgia, inherited property creates risks for vulnerable communities 
“Across the country, especially in the South, property is often passed down from generation to generation without proper legal paperwork. It’s known as heirs property, and it can create a host of problems: from the inability to access home equity to the risk of losing one’s house.”
Sam Whitehead | wbur 90.9 | April 12, 2017


If the moral imperative to end segregation wasn’t enough, here’s some economic data
“Using data from the 1990, 2000, and 2010 U.S. census, the researchers found that economic and racial segregation are correlated with bad outcomes not only for segregated groups, but for regions as a whole. In doing so, they make the case that racial and economic segregation—as much as the crime rate, median household income, and the prevalence of college degrees—should be a concerted focus of local, state, and federal leaders.” 
Henry Grabar | Slate | March 28, 2017


That Detroit rarity: a home mortgage
“Most home sales in Detroit require cash; only 19 percent of the 3,800 sales in 2016 involved a mortgage, reflecting the difficulty to secure loans in a city where property values are less than half what they were a decade ago.” 
Joel Kurth and Mike Wilkinson | Bridge | March 30, 2017

New York

New big data tool would help N.Y. cities with blight
“Municipalities have been requesting help from the attorney general’s office to track down problem landlords and problem properties. In addition to weighing down property tax rolls and public safety resources, evidence is piling up that shows how blighted properties cost neighbors too.”
Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | April 10, 2017

Town of Tonawanda sets up task force on abandoned properties 
“New state legislation – the Abandoned Property Relief Act – is a “game-changer” and will be part of the town’s two-phased approach to identify and then prosecute the worst cases, Hartz said. The state’s relief act “puts some teeth” into dealing with zombie properties, Town Board member John A. Bargnesi Jr. said.”
Nancy A. Fischer  | The Buffalo News | April 10, 2017

North Carolina

NC bill targets vacant buildings for repair
“Under H.B. 573, if an owner of a vacant building doesn’t listen to a city’s order to fix it up, a judge could appoint someone to step in. That person, called a “receiver,” would take control and demolish, rehabilitate or sell the empty building.” 
Carly Hildyard | Fox 8 | April 10, 2017


Chesterfield creates new hub for revitalization of neighborhoods, and residents’ responses varies 
“Deputy County Administrator Bill Dupler said the effort will tackle two big questions when it comes to revitalization: Where can the county make the most difference? And where is the greatest need?” 
Vanessa Remmers | Richmond Times-Dispatch | April 9, 2017

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Credit: David Guralnick, The Detroit News

Dutch students grow green home from Detroit blight
“The 23-year-olds graduated from the Technological University of Delft last year and decided to put their knowledge to use by designing an affordable, energy-efficient home that serves as a teaching tool and supports a family. They finalized their design after purchasing a Detroit house last May and exploring the neighbors’ needs.” 
Stephanie Steinberg | The Detroit News | April 11, 2017


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