Addressing Vacant Properties - Press
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.
Cook County is currently home to 55,000 vacant properties with 33,000 of them in Chicago alone.
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.
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.
It’s Friday desk clearing time for this blogger. “A five-bedroom house in Las Vegas sold in mid-July for $499,000, double the price it went for three months ago. In Phoenix, a similar house sold this month for $600,000, gaining $273,000 since March.
Local municipalities should ramp up vacant–building data collection to help address a problem that continues to ravage Chicago–area communities due to the foreclosure crisis, according to a new report from the Woodstock Institute.
Local municipalities should collect more data about vacant buildings to better tackle a problem that has damaged neighborhoods across the region since the housing crash, a new report argues.