Community Progress Blog

Headlines: The latest on vacant, abandoned, and problem properties – April 19, 2018

Written by on April 19, 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!

Massachusetts Ave. in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Credit: Ian Freimuth, flickr, 2011) 


Under Ben Carson, HUD scales back fair housing enforcement 
“The Trump administration is attempting to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, including Facebook, while sidelining officials who have aggressively pursued civil rights cases.” 
Glenn Thrush | The New York Times | March 28, 2018


As gentrification closes in, immigrants in Lincoln Heights find their American dream slipping away
“‘I’m all for improvements, but how are they making it better by getting rid of some of the people who enjoy being in this area?’ [Chris Velma] said. ‘For those who have heart in it, they really work hard to live where they’re at.'”
Andrea Castillo, Brittny Mejia, and Joe Mozingo | Los Angeles Times | April 3, 2018

California’s housing crisis is so bad, families are squatting abandoned homes just to survive
“He modeled Land Action off a tactic he had seen real estate speculators use: They form a collection of limited liability corporations to act as titleholders to conceal their ownership. Land Action would function as a title holding company to shield squatters until their paperwork cleared.” 
Bryan Schatz | Mother Jones | March/April 2018


HUD long neglected these residents. Now as they move out, some feel HUD let them down again.
“Thousands of housing authorities around the country have similarly aging complexes, many of which are degrading beyond the point of repair. But small, economically destitute places like Cairo and Thebes are often unable to leverage either the political will or private capital necessary to replace what’s lost.”
Molly Parker | ProPublica | April 6, 2018


Rolling out a red carpet for community development finance
“[B]loomington has introduced itself as the first ever ‘CDFI Friendly City,’ in hopes of establishing a new model to bring national financing to local community development.” 
Emily Nonko | Next City | April 4, 2018


Detroit cracking down on landlords allowing residents to live in unsafe conditions
“Landlords will have 90 days to get their properties registered as rentals with the city. Under the new ordinance, building owners will have six months to bring their property to code. After that point, if the corrections haven’t been made, renters will be able to put their rent into escrow instead of continuing to pay the landlord without results.”
Karen Drew | WDIV 4 | March 26, 2018

New York

Buffalo neighbors negotiating with city to take control of vacant lots
“Vacant properties in Buffalo’s Fruit Belt neighborhood could be changing hands and it will affect how that area gets developed. The F.B. Community Land Trust committee has its eyes on a cluster of vacant lots at the corner of Rose St. and High St., which are currently in the hands of the City of Buffalo.”
Callan Gray | WIVB 4 | April 3, 2018


Group says land banks are boosting local economy
“The Columbus and Franklin County land banks have demolished scores of houses in the years after the housing crisis that erupted a decade ago. And, according to a recent report, the work they’ve done has generated $180 million in economic activity.”
Mark Ferenchik | Columbus Dispatch | April 1, 2018


Confronting Austin’s history of racial segregation
“In the same week that Austin recognized the 90th anniversary of that segregation plan, the city announced a new effort to confront the latest chapter of the plan’s history: the displacement of black households from some of the very same neighborhoods where racist policies and lending practices once forced them to live. The city was announced as one of ten participating in the newly announced All-In Cities Anti-Displacement Policy Network.”
Zoe Sullivan | Next City | March 29, 2018

And, Lastly, a Blight Bright Spot!

(Credit: Brian Tomaino)

In Milwaukee, a public housing project aims to revitalize a neighborhood 
“After deferred maintenance and occasional flooding made it clear the old postwar structures required more than an upgrade, Milwaukee decided simple renovations wouldn’t be enough. The ongoing demolition, redesign, and rebuilding of Wisconsin’s largest public housing community hasn’t just created a new place to live. Though innovative, community-oriented planning and design, Westlawn has, supporters hope, become a model for rebuilding neighborhoods.”
Patrick Sisson | Curbed | April 5, 2018


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