National News: Vacant Properties In Urban Communities Continue To Be A Challenge!


You would think that most cities have recovered from the 2008 downturn but apparently, there are still towns across the U.S. that are struggling with the effects of the crash. I worked for a bank in the REO/Foreclosure division and at the height of the crash, I would drive through neighborhoods with "for sale" signs lined up all in a row. Every other house was vacant and of course, the homes and gardens were neglected and in disarray! It was a very sad situation and neighbors who remained in the community were left with some major challenges.

According to a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy titled “The Empty House Next Door.”, vacant buildings have reached “epidemic levels”. In some cities in the Rust Belt, they are seeing the highest levels of what researchers call “hypervacancy.”

Hypervacancy consists of blocks and neighborhoods of vacant buildings and lots that comprise 20 percent or more of the housing stock of an area. The cities with 10 percent or more of all units vacant, according to 2010 census data, are:

  • Gary, IN

  • Detroit,MI

  • Flint, MI

  • Dayton, OH

  • Cleveland,OH

  • St. Louis, MO

  • Buffalo, N.Y

  • Baltimore,MD

  • Birmingham,AL

  • Pittsburgh,PA

  • Chicago,IL

  • Philadelphia,PA

  • Milwaukee, WI

“Houses sell, if they sell at all, only to investors at rock bottom prices while the neighborhoods become areas of concentrated poverty, unemployment, and health problems,” urban scholar Alan Mallach writes. Maintaining abandoned buildings cost the cities a lot of money and vacant buildings attract squatters and vandals to the neighborhood.

Some cities have focused on demolition to relieve its vacancies and certain metros are focusing on the rehabilitation of vacant homes. In Cleveland, the Slavic Village Recovery Project is turning vacant blocks into affordable single-family homes that sell between $50,000 to $69,000 to buyers. Other cities are looking at creating urban farms, parks, or community gardens to fill the vacant spots.

Let's hope these projects are successful. It's a difficult situation and very sad for the community!

Source: “The High Cost of Abandoned Property, and How Cities Can Push Back,” Curbed.com (June 1, 2018)

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