Community Progress Blog

Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – March 2, 2017

Written by on March 2, 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!

Chattanooga, Tennessee (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress, 2014)

Chattanooga, Tennessee (Credit: Jen Leonard for Center for Community Progress, 2014)

National

Using algorithms to predict gentrification
“Data analysts are trying to give community development advocates the tools they need to fight displacement and economic decline.”
Tanvi Misra | CityLab | February 17, 2017

The wastelands of urban renewal 
“Through large-scale demolition and clearance, American urban renewal waged a war on perceived waste—and created a new tide of it.” 
Andrew Small | CityLab | February 13, 2017

District of Columbia

Bowser orders review of all properties operated by controversial D.C. landlord
“D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser is ordering city inspectors to review the more than 1,300 apartments owned by Sanford Capital, saying there is an “urgent” need to evaluate all the company’s units after reports of wretched conditions in some of its 19 buildings.”
Bowser orders review of all properties operated by controversial D.C. landlord
Jonathan O’Connell | Washington Post | March 2, 2017

Eviction companies pay the homeless illegally low wages to put people on the street
“It is a bitter cold morning in November, and the sun is just creeping up over the horizon. But for over an hour already, two unmarked vans have been idling or parked outside S.O.M.E. (So Others Might Eat), a longtime nonprofit that feeds D.C.’s homeless. These are the eviction company vans, known as “trucks,” and they are waiting for cheap, off-the-books labor.”
Elizabeth Flock | Washington City Paper | February 23, 2017

Indiana

Where a city sees decay, neighbors fight to save a community
“’What’s very unusual about this is using code enforcement to circumvent eminent domain law,” said Jeff Rowes, a lawyer in the case, which asks a judge to stop the city. “And we’re worried about this becoming a model — the model for how to replace housing for people of modest means in states everywhere that have passed limits on the powers of eminent domain.’”
Monica Davey | New York Times | February 10, 2017

Missouri

In Kansas City, a lesson in transforming closed schools  
“’Each school has a set of proponents who were engaged in the redevelopment process because people ultimately want to see those buildings reused, they don’t want to see them demolished and they don’t want to see them sit empty,’ [Jacob] Wagner said.” 
Kalyn Belsha | The Chicago Reporter | January 24, 2017

Ohio

Clark County Land Bank, housing partnership turn blight into home 
“The Land Bank took time last week to celebrate the accomplishments of the Neighborhood Housing Partnership as part of a national campaign dubbed #LoveThatLot, which encourages organizations to show a “public display of affection for successful projects like the home in Park Layne.” 
Parker Perry | Springfield News-Sun | February 20, 2017

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia has a new plan for its 43,000 vacant lots
“The Land Bank’s new strategic plan — unveiled last month and expected to be on the City Council’s agenda this week — is an attempt at balance. The document is sprinkled with colorful maps and attractive graphics showing the potential transformation of vacant or underused lots into housing of all kinds, mixed-use development, community gardens and side yards. It sets a target of returning nearly 2,000 properties to productive use over the next five years, with more than 1,200 of those expected to become homes, 650 of which are intended to be affordable for low-income Philadelphians.” 
Sandy Smith | Next City | February 27, 2017

Race, gentrification, and health in Philadelphia
“While factoring in other socioeconomic outcomes sheds doubt on the fact that these poorer outcomes for black respondents in gentrifying neighborhoods are caused by residential displacement, the authors argue that the endurance of these bad health outcomes suggest the subtle effect of gentrification’s cultural displacement. That change is also difficult to quantify: Self-reported bad health outcomes had a similar correlation in neighborhoods experiencing black gentrification.”
Richard Florida | CityLab | February 21, 2017

Rhode Island

Providence agency seeks to acquire hundreds of vacant city homes 
“The latest phase of the city’s EveryHome program would allow the quasi-public [Providence Redevelopment Authority] to use its broad powers to acquire hundreds of properties through eminent domain proceedings, purchase, and tax sale or by having existing homeowners gift their properties to the agency, according to Bob Azar, the city’s deputy director of planning and development.” 
Dan McGowan | WPRI12 | February 23, 2017

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Credit: WBALTV

Credit: WBALTV

Muralist highlights city life, African-American history
“’In those places that we define as blight, there is beauty there, so sometimes you just need something to help reveal the beauty that’s already there,’ [Ernest] Shaw said.” 
Deborah Weiner | WBALTV 11 | February 15, 2017

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