Community Progress Blog

Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – February 16, 2018

Written by on February 16, 2018

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!

Rowhomes in Washington D.C. (Credit: NCinDC, flickr user, 2008)


HUD may push new work requirements for public housing residents
“‘It’s framed as a rent reform proposal, but this isn’t really about reform when you look at the specific proposals,’ says Will Fischer, a senior policy analyst for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. ‘It isn’t clear that there’s any policy rationale behind this. If you work, they raise your rent. If you don’t work, they raise your rent. If you’re elderly, they raise your rent.'” 
Kriston Capps | CityLab | February 2, 2018

How new rules for Section 8 voucher payments mean more mobility for voucher holders
“Previous Department of Housing and Urban Development rules required local housing authorities to calculate those fair market rents based on rents across the entire metropolitan area, which is too broad to capture local market conditions. As a result, voucher holders remain largely concentrated in the same high-poverty neighborhoods. But a new rule, set to go into effect this year, could change that by changing how housing authorities calculate fair market rents.”
Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | January 26, 2018


County to continue landlord regulations 
“Put in place last spring, an ordinance requiring landlords to pay relocation assistance to tenants forced to vacate substandard housing units has brought more awareness to standards for safe and habitable residences for families and individuals already codified in state and local laws, said Assistant County Manager Mike Callagy.”
Anna Schuessler | The Daily Journal | February 13, 2018

A tale of two housing crises: rural and urban
“But Native Americans cannot escape the housing crisis by fleeing cities. On the reservations and in the border towns of Indian Country, the problem is equally acute. In the twilight of the Obama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimated that these communities urgently needed 68,000 new units — 33,000 to eliminate overcrowding and 35,000 to replace deteriorated stock.” 
Julian Brave NoiseCat | High Country News | February 5, 2018


Gentrification and the housing crisis in West Michigan
“‘What we are really facing in Grand Rapids is a housing crisis of epic proportions. I’ll give you one statistic to show you how serious that is. In Grand Rapids right now, if you were to look at single family homes for sale in the city at any price point, there are only 174 single family homes in the entire city of Grand Rapids for sale. We have 25,000 homes in the city and there is only 174 for sale,’ [David Allen] said.”
Meredith TerHaar | WZZM 13 | February 7, 2018


249 blighted Jackson properties targeted for crackdown
“Those 249 properties represent less than 1 percent of properties the city considers as blighted, but attacking the problem on such a scale is a big step up in what’s becoming a cooperative effort between the city, nonprofits and the secretary of state’s office.” 
Justin Vicory | Clarion Ledger | February 4, 2018

New York

Niagara Falls officials to use data to drive blight fight
“[Seth] Piccirillo described the strategy as a pivot from the existing reactive, complaint-driven response model to a “data-driven” approach, something he expects to allow city officials to act proactively. That will require prioritizing code enforcement violations, he said.”
Philip Gambini | Niagara Gazette | February 1, 2018


Podcast: Bouncing back from blight
“‘The first thing is civic engagement, getting the community engaged and invested in what’s going on…the change begins with them. So you assess the needs, talking with the community, meeting them where there at. What do we need in our community? What I am hearing that there’s a lack of, or that there’s a gap?,’ said Mayor Marita Garrett of Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania.”
Next City | February 12, 2018


Assembly passes bill to help Wisconsin landlords by limiting housing inspections, making some evictions easier
“The proposal would restrict regular inspection programs to blighted or high-complaint areas; limit potential violations to health, safety and mechanical problems; and then prohibit for five years the re-inspection of a dwelling with no problems.”
Jason Stein and Cary Spivak | Journal Sentinel | January 23, 2018

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Detroit Hives)

Black beekeepers are transforming Detroit’s vacant lots into bee farms
“Detroit Hives, a nonprofit organization founded by Timothy Paule and Nicole Lindsey in 2017, purchases vacant properties and remodels them into fully functioning bee farms. ‘These properties are left abandoned and serve as a dumping ground in most cases,’ Paule told HuffPost.’The area can be a breeding ground for environmental hazards, which creates a stigma around the city.'”
Philip Lewis | HuffPost | January 30, 2018


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