Vacant and Abandoned Properties


Vacant and abandoned properties are linked to increased rates of crime (particularly arson) and declining property values. The maintenance or demolition of vacant properties is a huge expense for our community. As of 2014 there were more than 300 vacant or abandoned properties within the Kingsway footprint.The current inventory of vacant properties results from two main causes: the foreclosure crisis as well as long-term urban decline, depopulation, and disinvestment. This decline in the number of households has created a tremendous gap between housing supply and demand. Not only does this mismatch leave many structures vacant, but it severely weakens local housing markets, limiting the potential of market-based solutions to vacancy. Jobs and retail likewise suburbanized in the latter half of the twentieth century, leaving behind former sites of industrial production and commercial activity. The shrinking population — and the typically lower incomes of those who remain — are often insufficient to support commercial revitalization.

A significant challenge to the success of our redevelopment effort is the cost associated with purchasing and maintaining derelict properties while incentives are identified that can offset the cost to rebuild. Vacant properties may require rehabilitation before they can be reoccupied. Healthy markets may offer private investors sufficient economic incentives to purchase, rehabilitate, and resell formerly vacant properties. In other cases, public subsidy or a nonprofit’s intervention may be able to turn a vacant home into an owner-occupied one. Although owner occupancy might be the most desirable reuse of foreclosed and vacated properties, investor activity, through both market sale and tax-foreclosure auctions, has opened up scattered-site rental of single-family homes which is not the focus for Kingsway nor the CWF at this time. Instead, we hope to stabilize vacant properties with the primary intent to attract homeowners which represents the neighborhoods best chance for ongoing stability.