Vacant land and abandoned properties challenge both older industrial metros struggling with the effects of long-term population decline and metros that were booming until the foreclosure crisis and the recession wrought havoc on their economies. These properties are a significant drag on local economic and fiscal health, exacerbating already intense fiscal stress for local governments. Yet they are also major potential assets for business growth, job creation, and neighborhood revitalization.
Unfortunately, weak and antiquated state laws governing tax foreclosure, land banking, code enforcement, and other areas make it difficult for local governments to address vacancy and abandonment, and prevent them from unlocking properties’ productive potential. To give municipalities the tools the need to repurpose distressed land and buildings, states should:
- Reform inefficient tax foreclosure laws
- Create clear paths to public control of vacant and abandoned properties
- Empower effective code enforcement and nuisance abatement
- Enhance local government’s power to mitigate the harm created by mortgage foreclosure