Category Archives: The Housing Crisis

Where Did Your Neighbors Go? Click and Find Out!

Our readers know we love to beat up on Forbes magazine for their frequent lists of dead/ dying/ shrinking/ etc. cities.

But let me give credit where credit is due…this is a really interesting and cool interactive graphic that uses IRS data to show migration within the US, sorted by county. Good job on this one, Forbes!

Click on a county to see inward and outward migration and where residents moved to/ or from. I could spend a long time playing with this.

Thanks to a frequent Rust Wire reader, my Dad, for pointing this out to me.

-KG

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Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Good Ideas, Real Estate, regionalism, The Housing Crisis, The Media

Youngstown and HUD’s Shrinking Cities Lapse

Why can’t Youngstown redevelop its downtrodden neighborhoods the same way Philadelphia has?

Willy Staley asks Youngstown Community Organizer Phil Kidd this question in the latest issue of Next American City.

Phil Kidd, Youngstown advocate. Photo by Sean Posey. http://www.lightstalkers.org/sean-posey

Phil Kidd, Youngstown advocate. Photo by Sean Posey. http://www.lightstalkers.org/sean-posey

“The most straightforward, and obvious problem for cities in decline is the way that the Department of Housing and Urban Development doles out its funds,” Staley writes. “The grants are not competitive; cities must apply, but the size of the grant is determined by a formula.”

The formula is weighted by population, so as Youngstown bleeds population, its HUD money shrinks as well. Meanwhile, the destruction caused by vacancy and abandonment cries out for attention.

“CDBG is our lifeline,” says Kidd, “and we’re experiencing population decline and trying to plan accordingly for that but it requires a lot of planning and land use strategies, demolition…all these things that are not proportional to population.”

Worse, in cash-strapped cities like Youngstown, Community Development Block Grant dollars are often tapped to fill holes in the general fund budget.

The most recent community development money infusion, the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (a program of the economic stimulus package), capped the allowable portion spent on demolitions at 10 percent. This presents another obstacle in a city where vacant houses are driving neighborhood abandonment. Kidd says while local community development officials have been struggling to stabilize one neighborhood, another has been hemorrhaging population at a rate of 435 percent.

As a solution, Youngstown’s Congressman Tim Ryan has been championing the Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act, which would make federal grants available to communities with innovative solutions for the problem of widespread vacancy and abandonment.

Read the articles for yourself:

Part one

Part two

-AS

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Filed under Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Big Urban Photography Project, The Housing Crisis, Urban Planning

McKeesport Gets Aggressive with Demolitions

Some good reporting from Tube City Almanac on the efforts of McKeesport, PA, to demolish vacant and abandoned properties.

-KG

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Filed under Crime, Economic Development, Good Ideas, Real Estate, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, sprawl, The Housing Crisis, The Media

Las Vegas Keeps Building

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Above: The party’s not over in Vegas.

Some urban thinkers thought one silver lining of the economic crisis could be a slowdown in unsustainable sprawl, particularly in overbuilt areas of the southwest, like Las Vegas.

But that appears not to be the case at all, according to this New York Times story.

Despite home prices having declined 60 percent in four years, and despite the fact that there are nearly 10,000 empty homes with 5,600 more expected on the market soon, the Times reports, “builders here are putting up 1,100 homes, and they are frantically buying lots for even more.”

The story goes on say, “Some of the boom-era homes, meanwhile, are in developments that feel like ghost towns. And many Americans will always believe the latest model of something is their only option, an attitude builders are doing their utmost to reinforce…’We’re building them because we’re selling them,” a marketing executive with one builder told the paper. ‘Our customers wouldn’t care if there were 50 homes in an established neighborhood of 1980 or 1990 vintage, all foreclosed, empty and for sale at $10,000 less. They want new. And what are we going to do, let someone else build it?’ ”

How much longer can this go on?

Meanwhile, from last week’s Wall Street Journal, Detroit is preparing to tear down 10,000 homes, including Mitt Romney’s childhood home.

-KG

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Filed under Economic Development, Featured, regionalism, sprawl, The Housing Crisis, The Media, Urban Farming

New Ways to Fight Blight?

abandonedhousesinflintmichigan

From the Flint Journal via Flint Expatriates:

Former Genesee County Treasurer Daniel Kildee is pushing for reforms to allow local governments to sue property owners who don’t take care of their homes- the proposed system would allow the Genesee County Landbank to recover costs of cleaning and fixing up homes, according to Flint Expatriates.

I’m curious to see if this idea goes further. A few years ago, when I was writing stories about vacant properties in Lorain, Ohio, Kildee’s Genesee County Landbank was often cited as a model other cities should copy.

Kildee is now the head of the Center for Community Progress.

-KG


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Filed under Economic Development, Featured, Good Ideas, Real Estate, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, The Housing Crisis, The Media, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning

Cleveland vs. Wall Street

Here’s a movie I can’t wait to see: Cleveland vs. Wall St.

The documentary will be screened at the Cannes Film Festival, Reuters reports, and follows victims of foreclosure facing off against banks.

-KG

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Filed under Art, Economic Development, Politics, Real Estate, The Housing Crisis, The Media

The Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act

Have you ever noticed, Obama likes to give his legislation long, convoluted names?

At the same time, this is an important one.

It might be more appropriately called Aid to Industrial Cities. (But obviously that might be politically sensitive. How does the old double-standard go again: farm aid = good, city aid = bad?) This piece of long-overdue legislation would establish competitive grants for revitalizing older industrial cities through the department of Housing and Urban Development. The Community Regeneration, Sustainability and Innovation Act would mostly help eliminate vacant housing, the profusion of which has been an intractable problem in neighborhoods and a drain on strained city budgets across the Industrial Midwest.

In a new blog, Youngstown’s Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative has more information. The group is trying to lobby the national government to take a more active role in helping Rust Belt cities through the painful process of economic restructuring.

It’s good to see the national government finally starting to recognize that while Rust Belt cities’ problems may be regional in nature, they are truly national in scope.

-AS

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Filed under Editorial, Good Ideas, regionalism, Rust Belt Blogs, The Housing Crisis, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty