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Vacant Homes Plague D.C. Suburbs

Even in the Washington D.C. region, which survived the Great Recession with one of the strongest economies in the country, foreclosed and vacant homes are a stubborn presence in many neighborhoods, including affluent ones.
January 15, 2013, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"This is what the end of a housing crisis looks like: steadily rising home prices, foreclosure filings at five-year lows, but also millions of vacant foreclosed homes," reports Annys Shin. "Years after the housing market crashed, recovering communities from Las Vegas to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., continue to grapple with a glut of vacant properties, which drag down property values, attract vandals and drain public resources."

While the D.C. region escaped the worst of the recession, it hasn't entirely escaped the effects of the burst housing bubble that's touched most communities in the country. In Prince George's County, in suburban Maryland, a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures and a state foreclosure process that averages more than 500 days have conspired to leave vacant houses scattered throughout neighborhoods, even affluent ones, says Shin. She looks at the case of one vacant $420,000 house in Clinton that was vandalized and seriously damaged by fire two years after it went into foreclosure.  

"Vacant properties impose costs on communities whether they tend to them or not. Neglect, maintenance and demolition all come with a price."

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Published on Sunday, January 13, 2013 in The Washington Post
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