Office of Urban Affairs Should Help Manage Foreclosures

Dealing with abandoned and foreclosed properties should be high on the list of priorities for the new White House Office of Urban Affairs, says Justin Hollander, assistant professor at Tufts.
May 26, 2009, 9am PDT | Tim Halbur
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Hollander would like to see the OUA promote a "watch and reuse strategy."

"It begins with local officials monitoring both foreclosure filings and real estate listings where homes are assessed at values lower than recorded mortgages on those properties," Hollander says. "This watch list can serve as the basis for a volunteer-led effort by local neighborhoods to track which structures in the areas are unoccupied, and local law enforcement can use it as a tool to enforce public safety and nuisance concerns that may emanate from unoccupied structures."

From there, local officials could develop a strategy to protect and maintain the buildings. "A critical piece of this proactive strategy would have to be detailed plans for addressing those unoccupied structures where there is no longer an active real estate agent or property owner," Hollander says. "These 'orphans' can cause the greatest threat to neighborhood security as they are subject to arson, squatters and vandalism. For those orphan sites, local officials must take bold steps to protect, maintain, occupy or even demolish them before they begin to have a blighting effect on their surrounding neighborhoods.""

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Published on Friday, May 22, 2009 in American City & County Magazine
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