Community Progress Blog

Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – March 30, 2017

Written by on March 30, 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!

Historic Fourth Ward Park in Atlanta, Georgia (Credit: Danielle Lewinski for Center for Community Progress, 2017)

National

Opinion: Trump Community Development Block Grant cut would affect millions 
“Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with examining how the government funds programs. But when many people of low-income could be affected, it is incumbent on officials to put politics aside and take a deep and accurate look at what is happening before making decisions to transfer money from social programs to the already enormous defense budget.” 
Erik Sherman | Forbes | March 18, 2017

Indiana

Bill would stop South Bend from holding landlords liable for nuisance properties 
“The 2013 ordinance allows the city to fine landlords if police are called to a property an excessive number of times, a measure police say has worked well.”
Jeff Parrott | South Bend Tribune | March 21, 2017

Kentucky

Here are two new ways Louisville is fighting blight
“The second ordinance approved by the council last week will allow the Landbank Authority to recommend and Metro Council to approve certain areas to be included in a “tax delinquency diversion program.” Under the program, the sale of tax liens on vacant properties in designated areas would be prohibited. The aim of the program is to prevent corporations or banks or other entities from being able to sit on properties after purchasing a portion of an existing tax lien — giving the local government more control to redevelop blighted areas, [Laura] Grabowski said.” 
Jacob Ryan | 89.3 WFPL | March 27, 2017

Louisiana

Neighborhood association building ‘parklet’ to fight blight 
“It was an empty lot that was forgotten about, until [Tyler] Hicks and several of his neighbors decided to band together with a grassroots project to liven it up.“We hope that it’s going to be a space that cleans up underused or underdeveloped areas,” said Hicks.”
Carmen Farrish | WAFB 9 | March 27, 2017

New Orleans Redevelopment Authority transfers building to local organization  
“Sankofa is a non-profit designed to build healthier communities by providing fresh food and community services to help challenge-stricken communities. At the new hub, Sankofa will use the building as a community resource center for local residents, providing fresh food access, small business development, voting advocacy, art making workshops, and environmental education.” 
Eric Craig | Curbed | January 31, 2017

Michigan

City: Battle Creek neighborhoods are improving 
“From code violations to property values, local neighborhoods have improved for the third consecutive year, indicating a rise out of the foreclosure crisis and a better environment for investments.” 
Jennifer Bowman | Battle Creek Enquirer | March 22, 2017

New York

A.G. announces $20.9 million for land banks to rebuild New York neighborhoods 
“’The three capital area land banks have acquired well over 700 properties,” [Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman said. “They’ve already renovated and returned to market more than one 125 and demolished over 100 unsafe structures.’ The grants were awarded through the Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative, bringing Schneiderman’s total investment in land banks to $57 million since 2013. ” 
Spectrum News Staff | Spectrum News | March 25, 2017

Tax lien sale threatens hundreds of NYC nonprofits 
“Like many cities, NYC regularly sells unpaid debts to investors in order to recover some of the funds owed. Investors then “work” with property owners — often by initiating foreclosure or forcing a sale — to settle the remaining debt.” 
Oscar Perry Abello | Next City | March 24, 2017

Ohio

Fewer abandoned homes mar Columbus neighborhoods 
“In 2016, the city demolished 306 structures, including those the city doesn’t own, while selling 132 homes for renovation. It also sold 59 vacant lots, 32 of them at a reduced cost because the buyers were adjacent property owners who put in work to maintain them. The city collected $1.1 million from property sales. The average cost of a demolition is $12,400. “The triage is to focus on the worst properties. To a large extent, we’ve done that,” said John Turner, who manages the city’s land bank.” 
Mark Ferenchik | The Columbus Dispatch | March 19, 2017

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

Credit: Mike Japowicz, Fox 66 News

Flint Blight Squad works to make neighborhood ‘something to be proud of’ 
“’It’s very encouraging for the neighborhood, and a lot of people in the neighborhood you can just feel the buzz. People are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that finally positive change is on the way,’ [Steven Major] said.” 
Mike Japowicz | Fox 66 News | March 26, 2017

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