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Finding Solutions to Vacancy Issues

There are over 6 million unoccupied units in the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, despite a shortage of affordable housing across the country. According to the Center for Community Progress, there is still a need for vacant property reclamation, Marketplace reports.

“I think the national narrative is that the crisis is over,” said Courtney Knox, the Center’s Director of National Leadership and Education. “But what we see is there are still neighborhoods in every community that are impacted by vacant, abandoned and deteriorated properties that really impact the quality of life for the residents that live there.”

O1.5 million (1,530,563) of the vacant units in the U.S are single-family homes and condos are vacant, representing 1.6% of all homes according to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions. The report revealed that there are a total of 9,612 “zombie” homes or properties facing possible foreclosure which have been vacated by their owners nationwide, with the highest number of zombie properties in New York (2,428), followed by Florida (1,634), Illinois (985), Ohio (891) and New Jersey (463).

Despite vacancy often being thought of as a urban area problem, rural areas face hypervacancy as well, according to Katherine Garvey, runs a law clinic at West Virginia University that helps small towns and counties tackle blight.

“Hypervacancy is defined at 20% vacancy,” Garvey told Marketplace. “We have communities that have 70% vacancy.”

Solutions include adding 5,600 units of affordable housing in Atlanta, or Detroit’s plan to demolish 9,000 vacant and abandoned houses in the next five years. Detroit is facing an increase in demand for affordable housing as the city continues to bounce back from the 2008 crash. Despite holding nearly 81,000 off-market vacant units and a net supply of nearly 25,000 owned units expected by 2045, tight inventory of homes and the lower supply has pushed up prices, Hour Detroit reports.

“Some communities aren’t going to be where they were 50, 60, 70, 80 years ago — that’s just the reality — but we can still make those places great places to live,” said Akilah Watkins-Butler, CEO of the Center for Community Progress on Marketplace. “We’re helping cities reimagine what a future can be like, with the current set of circumstances.”

About Author: Seth Welborn

Seth Welborn is a Reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of Harding University, he has covered numerous topics across the real estate and default servicing industries. Additionally, he has written B2B marketing copy for Dallas-based companies such as AT&T. An East Texas Native, he also works part-time as a photographer.
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