Tackling Blight in Your Neighborhood
Blight defined: destructive force: something that spoils or damages things severely; ruined state: a severely spoiled or ruined state, especially of an urban area. Now, apply the definition to the abandoned/foreclosed properties in your neighborhood. What should you do to prevent blight?
Well, one would reasonably think that if a pickup truck arrives at a recently abandoned home, enters the property with a key and comes out with copper, a boiler, toilets, carpet, blinds and more…in broad daylight, calling the police is step one. I am here to sadly say that after witnessing the above scenario actually take place, I, along with at least five other neighbors, dialed 911 and reported the crime-in-action. The police never showed. Patience dear reader, it gets worse. The same incident repeated every day after, for an entire week. We called the police and again, nothing happened, either time. I am now the neighbor of a home that has been occupied for over 35 years and is now barren, stripped, and nowhere near marketable.
According to an article from the Center for American Progress, banks put up for auction or took possession of more than 165,000 homes during November of 2008 alone, many of which continue to sit vacant and attract blight. An additional $5 billion toward neighborhood stabilization would allow the federal government to provide grants to states and cities for local nonprofits to purchase these properties in bulk, then rehabilitate them and offer them for sale or rent at affordable prices. It is hoped that “the restored properties will no longer be a drain on local resources, as municipalities must now cover rising costs ranging from trash removal, grass cutting, and boarding up vacant properties to more serious problems of vandalism, increased property and personal crime rates, and arson.”
Ok. How does this work? The longer a property sits vacant, attracting blight within neighborhoods where homeowners have lived for nearly 40 years or more, the more money the state will possibly receive for restoration of these neglected properties?
Also, non-profits are often insufficiently funded for their administrative and operational expenses. When funds do finally arrive, and properties are eventually acquired, how much time will have passed? What will have become of the forty years-plus residencies occupied by the Williams, Smiths, Adams, Edwards and Wrights?
All I can say right now is “Wow!” I wonder if our ignored calls to the authorities, that we pay voluntarily/involuntarily to protect and serve us was simply negligence, due to absence of gun shots in our complaints or were our ignored calls a new procedure in a strategic plan? Either way, there was an underlying message within it all: See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil…until your property value is non-existent. Really? Hmm… I have a message of my own: “Good luck with that, because I find sitting on the sidelines quite boring and am committed to getting involved and changing the things that I complain about. I will write, speak, sing, and/or dance a jig to encourage others to do the same.”