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.
Governor Quinn signed SB 56, the Protecting Tenants in Foreclosure Act (PTFA), into law last week. Illinois’ PTFA extends basic protections to renters living in buildings that go into foreclosure.
CHICAGO—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not be required to maintain vacant homes up to the standards in the City of Chicago’s vacant buildings ordinance, ruled U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Durkin on Friday.
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.
Is the Chicago region housing market turning a corner? New data we released this week offer some optimism—foreclosure filings, which signify the beginning of the foreclosure process, dropped by more than a third across the Chicago six county region from the first half of 2012 to the first half of 2013.
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.
Municipalities across the Chicago region are struggling to come up with effective ways of making vacant homes productive again. Some communities are hitting a wall: how can you design a response when you don’t fully understand the problem?
CHICAGO--Negative equity is disproportionately concentrated in the Chicago region’s African American, Latino, and majority minority neighborhoods, a new report from Woodstock Institute found.
The report also found that borrowers in communities of color have much less equity on average than do borrowers in predominantly white communities. “Underwater homes limit opportunities for families and sap neighborhood wealth,” said Spencer Cowan, Vice President at Woodstock Institute. “When highly concentrated, underwater homes can contribute to community destabilization and the proliferation of foreclosures. The clustering of negative equity in communities of color poses hurdles to economic recovery in these areas.”
The Chicago City Council unanimously passed an ordinance recently that would hold mortgage servicers accountable for maintaining the thousands of vacant homes stuck in the foreclosure process without resolution. We estimate that these abandoned vacant homes can cost Chicago up to $36 million annually.
Can we trust even the most seemingly reputable public figures? How will we address the needs of our aging population? Can destroying 70,000 homes actually make a city a better place to live? And, for good measure, what is real? Our staff has a lot to think about this week.
Bank of America recently announced that it will donate 150 vacant, foreclosed properties to Chicago-area nonprofits for rehab or demolition. Housing Wire reports:
When the South Suburban Housing Collaborative and the West Cook County Housing Collaborative were formed in 2009, they were built on a bold idea: that municipalities could look beyond political boundaries and work together to tackle the pressing housing needs of their areas, from foreclosure response to affordable housing to strategic and sustainable development. It was a tall order, and one that had scarcely been tried elsewhere. Almost two years later, the experiment is starting to show positive results. The West Cook County Housing Collaborative broke ground on their first project this month in Maywood.
It’s clear that vacant homes put a damper on their surrounding community. Not only are they eyesores, they put other homes at risk of losing value and may attract crime and other destabilizing elements. To minimize these risks, many municipalities have ordinances that allow them to hold the homes’ owners responsible for securing and maintaining the property. What can already-strapped local governments do if it’s unclear who the owner is, or the owner hasn’t notified them that the property is vacant?
The foreclosure crisis continues to evolve and pose new challenges for communities working towards recovery. Chicago area municipalities, community and policy groups, and financial institutions have been working together for years to develop tools and strategies to handle the problems associated with foreclosures on single-family homes, many of which have been highlighted by Regional HOPI. A new threat is commanding these groups’ attention: foreclosures on condominiums.
Our latest report, “Left Behind: Troubled Foreclosed Properties and Servicer Accountability in Chicago,” has created a wave of buzz from the Chicago region and beyond, generating dozens of stories, thousands of comments, and scores of tweets and Facebook posts. In case you missed it, the report found thousands of troubled foreclosed homes in Chicago that are likely poorly maintained, lack clear ownership, and threaten to destabilize neighborhoods. These homes include what we call “red flag” properties, where a servicer has decided not to complete the foreclosure process, and likely-vacant lender-owned properties that are not registered with the City of Chicago potentially in violation of its vacant properties ordinance.