Monday, April 16, 2012

Do we need "a demolition crusade"?

The real estate site Housingwire has a medium-ominous feature about contractors who advocate for and (perhaps not incidentally) profit from the demolition of vacant houses, and the gratitude of vacant properties' neighbors for the demolitions, and lobbying efforts to convince city leaders and legislators that the way to deal with vacant houses is to destroy them:
“But much more will need to be done to address the problem of blight. Vacant properties increased every year over the last decade from the 13.6 million empty homes counted in 2000. Between 2005 and 2008, as the real estate market began to overheat and record-level foreclosures left many properties abandoned, vacancies jumped from 15.8 million to 18.7 million homes.
In 2011, nearly 76% of these properties were considered vacant year-round.
“I think there’s a collective conscious coming here, and I think that people are starting to realize that we have to get serious about this,” Fernbacher says. “We have to move these houses. And the only way to do this is to remove them.” One of Fernbacher’s clients is Safeguard Properties, the Ohio-based property preservation firm. Its founder Robert Klein is taking Fernbacher around the country this year from conference to conference on a demolition crusade, to convince cities to pursue the clean slate their hardest hit communities crave.
“Every single city, I don’t care where it’s at, has these blighted communities,” Klein said. “They are a cancer.””
It is an odd thought in this context that the U.S. population is not actually shrinking.

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