Abandoned Houses and Vacancies Cause Cities Pain

<p>Cities across the country scramble to deal with abandoned properties as they drive down local economies.</p>
February 14, 2008, 8am PST | Nate Berg
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"Rust Belt cities, already beaten down by a miserable economy before foreclosures began spiraling nationally, are moving to cut the number of houses left vacant when the mortgage can't be paid. At stake are valuable tax dollars and the survival of neighborhoods."

"County treasurers and mayors are filing lawsuits and developing land banks to buy distressed properties and either demolish them or repair and sell them. Buffalo, N.Y., brings property owners and lenders together in court on monthly 'Bank Days' to find solutions for cleaning up vacant homes."

"A record-setting number of foreclosures nationally has helped drive down the U.S. economy. A report commissioned last November by the U.S. Conference of Mayors projected that 361 metropolitan areas would take an economic hit of $166 billion in 2008."

"Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, has about 17,000 vacant foreclosed properties -- roughly 4 percent of its 395,000 houses. Baltimore has 16,000, up from 12,300 in 2000."

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Published on Wednesday, February 13, 2008 in The Baltimore Sun
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