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Solving the Foreclosure Crisis in Low-Income Neighborhoods Essay

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In cities across the United States, the ongoing foreclosure crisis has caused the rapid spread of urban blight. The proliferation of foreclosed properties has consequences far beyond the hardships encountered by families facing foreclosure. Rising crime, unstable neighborhoods, and local budget problems are but a few of the external effects created by an overabundance of foreclosed property. Dealing with such property requires a two-faceted approach by local governments that focuses on acquiring abandoned properties and then creating programs to encourage responsible homeownership. Of particular importance are the concepts of land banking, which helps to consolidate land for reuse, and shared equity housing, which keeps housing…show more content…
Such a model ought to be applied to blighted neighborhoods throughout America. In a city like Flint where municipal services are greatly constricted by a weak tax base, it is notable that many of the Genesee County Land Bank's programs aim to address blight at little cost, often relying on citizens' dedication to preserving their own neighborhoods to function. For example, homeowners adjacent to abandoned land bank-owned lots have the option of purchasing these lots for a small fee plus the foreclosure year's property taxes. By rebranding vacant lots as useful property, some of the stigma of blight is eliminated. The negative effects of empty lots on crime and property values can be mitigated when invested citizens own and maintain these lots. For those citizens who do not want the extra tax burden of buying side lots, the Adopt-A-Lot program encourages people to take care of nearby abandoned properties on a volunteer basis, achieving a similar effect. When foreclosed properties are held by a land bank, they can be quickly returned to usable housing, slowing the course of depopulation in unstable neighborhoods. Often the land bank's power over its holdings creates opportunities for localities to promote wealth creation and neighborhood stability through responsible homeownership. A number of different arrangements known collectively as shared equity housing allow local
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