Some cities that have seen population decreases, high foreclosures, and job losses are faced with the problem of what to do with the abandoned homes that were left behind.
After all, it takes money to demolish empty homes, and some cities are finding they can’t afford to do it.
“The principal impediment is the cost,” Michael Braverman, deputy commissioner of code enforcement for Baltimore Housing, told USA Today. Baltimore has about 10,000 abandoned buildings that need to be demolished, city officials estimate.
Some cities are using their share of the $26 million mortgage settlement between the nation’s five largest banks and state attorneys generals to use for demolishing vacant homes. The money was originally earmarked to help home owners avoid foreclosure. But cities view removing the “blight” as a way to prevent home values from falling further.
In Cleveland, city officials say rows of vacant properties are “eyesores and drug traps and crime traps,” says Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio. LaTourette is co-sponsoring a bill in Congress, asking lawmakers for $4 billion to help communities afford the demolishing of vacant buildings.
Some cities are passing laws to make it easier for officials to demolish vacant structures.
“It’s not a silver bullet,” Frank Alexander, co-founder of the Center for Community Progress, told USA Today about cities’ efforts to try to speed up demolishing with new laws. “It doesn’t create redevelopment. But it does take the properties that are liabilities and at least eliminate the liabilities.”