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vacant properties

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The exterior of a building, with lettering that reads "Resistencia" with a mural of a fist extending upward.

Trying to Transform Squats into Public Housing in São Paulo

In São Paulo, vacant housing units outnumber the unhoused, 12 times over. Across the city, residents have responded by seizing abandoned buildings to turn them into affordable housing. Will the government step up to convert these buildings into public housing?

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Ten smiling people of varying ages and skin tones, all clad in purple T-shirts, stand at the far side of a garden, all of them holding shrubby green plants in black pots to be planted in the dark-brown newly turned soil. Toward the near side of the garden, a shovel lies waiting to be deployed. Behind the garden is a brick building with a mural showing adults and children raising their arms, mouths open in song or chant.
Reported Article

Supreme Court Decision: Good for Homeowners, Bad for Land Banks?

A SCOTUS ruling that protects a homeowner’s equity may end up benefiting speculators and hurting land banks.

View of a Chicago neighborhood and the city skyline
Reported Article

Squatters Ask Chicago: Why So Many Vacancies?

Officials in Chicago are struggling to address the city’s homelessness and housing crises. So why does the Chicago Public Housing Authority have one of the highest rates of vacancy in the country?

An across-the-street view of a large domed building with broad steps leading up to the pillared front. Two people on the sidewalk are taking a photo, and two others are strolling by. The sky is a deep autumnal blue and the trees lining the plaza are in bright fall reds and oranges.
Reported Article

West Virginia Tackles Vacancy With Tax Reform

In 2018, Shelterforce wrote about the Center for Community Progress’s recommendations for tax reform in West Virginia to address vacancy. Guided by CCP’s suggestions, the state auditor’s office has recently passed two laws to change its tax sales process and keep properties in use.

Five people are painting a wooden ramp leading up to a white house. Two are wearing white t-shirts and three are wearing blue t-shirts.
Practitioner Voice

Why Housing Policy Should Include More Funding for Home Repairs

Researchers found that older homeowners in St. Louis averaged $13,000 in unmet home repairs. Here’s how advocates can measure home repair need in their own cities, and why repairs make a difference.

A row of New York Police Dept. cars lined up, half on the sidewalk, half in the gutter. At least 7 cars can be counted. Cars are white with blue lettering. At left, a woman is walking in the road past the cars.
Reported Article

New Yorkers Need Land. The NYPD Is Sitting On Nearly 150 Lots.

A new map reveals how much land in New York City is being wasted by city police—often sitting vacant, rather than serving the public good.

A pair of "Groucho Marx" glasses resting on a raspberry-colored table.
Practitioner Voice

Land Owned by LLCs More Likely to Be Vacant

NYC’s land speculators use LLCs to evade legal responsibility while sitting on vacant property.

Housing

Vacant Homes Wither Under Flawed Tax Sale System

Outdated tax sale rules and predatory investment practices keep Baltimore homes in a revolving door of vacancy. But that could soon change.

Neighborhood Change

Can We Curb Crime by Cleaning the Corner?

As communities discuss reeling in their police departments, Flint, Michigan and Binghamton, New York have turned to another tool to reduce crime.

Housing

Homeless Mothers in California Show How Radical Housing Activism Becomes Lasting Change

Moms 4 Housing and LA Reclaimers have proven that successful grassroots organizing can turn headline-grabbing occupations into long-term affordable housing.

vacant home with lit windows
COVID

6 Ways to Prevent Post-COVID Vacancy

Local governments must explore ways to minimize commercial and residential property deterioration and subsequent vacancy.

Squatters occupy the Arion building in Seattle after it sat vacant for months. There are signs that read "Operation Homestead" and "It's Alive" outside the large white building.
Reported Article

History Shows that in Times of Crisis, Housing Activists Get Radical

A recent spate of vacant home occupations echo squatters campaigns of the past.

State policies on everything from taxation to land bank funding can make the difference between a vacant property and a well-care-for property like this one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Community Development Field

State Policies Play a Central Role in the Fight Against Vacant Property

Abandoned and vacant properties seem like a quintessentially local problem. But state policies have a huge effect on how well municipalities can fight it.