Addressing Vacant Properties

Vacant properties destabilize neighborhoods, lower property values, and attract crime. Woodstock Institute advocates for policies that require better maintenance and reuse of vacant, abandoned homes.

This is an image of keys over a blueprint for a house
July 7, 2016

This report summarizes some of the successes of the work of the organizations that participated in the Regional Housing Partnership (RHP), which was supported by the Chicago Community Trust.

Woodstock Institute Theory of Change graphic
April 20, 2016

In this first part of our Theory of Change series of blog posts and images, Woodstock President Dory Rand explains the ways in which Woodstock Institute is working to achieve our mission of creating a just financial system in which lower-wealth people and communities, and people and communities of color, can achieve economic security and community prosperity. In this series, our research and policy staff will discuss the strategies we use to effect positive, lasting financial systems change. 

This is an image of a boarded up home, with a sign that reads "No Copper".
April 1, 2016

The City of Chicago requires the owners of vacant properties to register them with the city, and to secure and maintain them.  The city amended its vacant building registration ordinance in November 2011 to require mortgagees to register vacant properties in an effort to address the growing problems created by vacant buildings stuck in the lengthy foreclosure process.  

This is the Title page from the report. It is of a dilapidated room.
March 31, 2016

This report examines data from the Chicago vacant building website, of which the vacant building registry is a part, and compares those data with vacant property address data from the United States Postal Service (USPS) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  This report also looks at extent to which the change to the City of Chicago vacant building registration requirements affected registrations overall and the income and racial composition of the census tracts in which the properties are located.

January 23, 2015

By Alana Semuels 

CHICAGO—When he moved back to Chicago after being away for 15 years, Maurice Samuels, 40, never thought he’d live in Woodlawn. He grew up in the area on the South Side of Chicago, and remembered its deterioration well. When he left in his twenties, Woodlawn "used to be run down," he said. There were vacant homes and walking around, he said, you didn't feel safe.

May 14, 2014
Six years after the financial collapse of 2008, the fight to rebuild our communities has not ended.
April 11, 2014

Woodstock and other advocates have long raised the issue of vacant properties in the Chicago region and the seemingly endless ways they negatively affect our communities.

April 9, 2014

Cook County is currently home to 55,000 vacant properties with 33,000 of them in Chicago alone.

March 19, 2014

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland released a report earlier this month finding that adoption of a fast-track foreclosure process for abandoned properties in the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania would save the states at least $24 million annually.

February 24, 2014
Properties that sit deteriorating in foreclosure limbo are plaguing New York’s neighborhoods.
February 24, 2014
Properties that sit deteriorating in foreclosure limbo are plaguing New York neighborhoods. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he plans to introduce legislation to get banks and mortgagees to better maintain the vacant properties.
February 19, 2014
From 2008 to 2010, 8.7% of foreclosures filed in Cook County, Illinois, were zombie foreclosures, accruing to more than 5,800 zombie properties in the city of Chicago. But this is just the beginning.
February 14, 2014

A group of community organizers worked from the end of 2012 into the spring of 2013 cleaning out an abandoned two-flat at 4824 W. Van Buren St.

February 12, 2014
As the Chicago area struggles to emerge from the foreclosure crisis, a growing problem poses a serious challenge to the housing recovery: zombie properties.
February 7, 2014
It’s Friday desk clearing time for this blogger. “In New Jersey, foreclosure filings — which include default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — rose 44 percent last year, RealtyTrac said. Atlantic County was up 45 percent, Cumberland County 38 percent and...
February 6, 2014

This fact sheet summarizes the Unresolved Foreclosures: Patterns of Zombie Properties in Cook County report, which examines the extent to which mortgage servicers are filing for foreclosure and then not pursuing the case to resolution in different types of communities in Cook County, Illinois. The report defines a zombie property as a property with a foreclosure filing that has not been resolved for more than three years. Because neither the borrower nor the servicer has clear control of the property, neither has an incentive to assume responsibility for the property. Zombie properties, therefore, are likely to threaten neighborhood stability by being poorly maintained or blighted, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, The report concludes with recommendations to reduce the negative impact of zombie properties on communities in Cook County.

February 3, 2014
January 31, 2014
Thousands of Cook County residents are being haunted by their former homes. A recent study from the Woodstock Institute shows there are more than 11,700 “zombie properties,” or unresolved foreclosures, in the area, including 5,800 in Chicago.
January 28, 2014
Undead properties plague Cook County Illinois
January 24, 2014
Woodstock Institute report finds that unresolved foreclosures concentrated in low-income communities, racially homogenous communities
January 24, 2014
This report examines the extent to which servicers are walking away from foreclosures in Cook County, Illinois, creating zombie properties, and how that practice may vary by the characteristics of the neighborhood in which the property is located.
January 22, 2014
Lower-income areas have the highest number of affected properties, study says
December 11, 2013

Watt brings experience and fresh ideas to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regulator

December 5, 2013
Vacant homes are posing obstacles to recovery for communities throughout the Chicago region and beyond.
December 2, 2013

Every six months, Dave McDowell rounds up a group of volunteers, hands them legal pads and pens, and sends them out to log the addresses of every vacant property they can find within a roughly three-square-mile area on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

November 8, 2013
The Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) recently announced an important new resource for municipalities looking to reduce the negative impacts of vacant residential buildings on their communities.
October 15, 2013

How can organizations from different sectors overcome barriers and collaborate to promote a housing market recovery and revitalize communities?

Tags: rhopi
September 24, 2013

For our 40th anniversary, we have secured some incredible keynote speakers you’re sure to enjoy. From a range of backgrounds and expertise, our speakers will make you think differently about the work you do every day.

September 12, 2013
Forty years ago Aaron and Sylvia Scheinfeld decided to take action since they were unhappy with redlining, predatory lending, and inequality in access to credit and financial services that plagued the Chicago region.