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New toolkit helps communities address vacant properties, foreclosures

This guest post was written by Beth Dever, housing director, Metropolitan Mayors Caucus.

As Chicago communities continue to experience fallout from foreclosures – in 2009 alone, some 40,000 foreclosures were completed in the metropolitan region – one of their major struggles has been dealing with the vacant homes that remain after residents leave. On March 1, local organizations hosted an event to introduce a new toolkit designed to help communities address vacant properties, with nine strategies for identifying and tracking problem properties, and tips for determining the best ways to address them.  

Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Metropolitan Mayors Caucus partnered to produce the toolkit, which includes two documents geared toward municipal officials. How Can Municipalities Confront the Vacant Property Challenge? provides an overview of nine key strategies that local governments can implement to tackle their vacant building concerns. These strategies include creating an early warning database, collaborating across departments to ensure consistent knowledge and enforcement, recovering the costs of property maintenance, and managing receivership and demolition.  

How Can Municipalities Confront the Vacant Property Challenge? A Toolkit provides more in-depth information about tested policies and programs. Once a community determines which strategies best meet its needs, officials can use the toolkit to identify model ordinances and reach out to municipal officials who have already implemented these strategies.

Also on March 1, Public Act 96-0856 went into effect. Passed in 2009 by the Illinois General Assembly, the law requires financial institutions to notify municipalities when foreclosures within their borders have been filed and when they have been completed. This provision will help communities implement the tracking and database programs described in the toolkit. The law also prioritizes the liens municipalities place on properties after they conduct maintenance work on the property – again, pairing well with the strategies to recoup costs outlined in the toolkit.  

At the March 1 release event, local officials had the opportunity to talk with each other about how they are addressing the vacant property challenge. It was clear that, while communities are experiencing different levels of the problem, most have been affected in some way by the national foreclosure crisis. As more and more communities enact ordinances and programs to gain control over their vacant building inventories, the information and examples outlined on the Vacant Property Resources web site will expand to reflect new strategies and best practices.

Learn more by visiting the Vacant Property Resources web site.

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  1. 1. Huge from CA on September 7, 2011

    will this tool help in locating vacant properties?

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