Vacancy News...

Good to know that other communities are dealing with shrinking cities, landbanking and alternative land use in ways that that aren't even part of the dialog in Buffalo...yet.

This morning on NPR we hear about what's happening in Flint, Michigan. Listen here.
Abandoned homes are a big problem in Flint, Mich., a former manufacturing stronghold that is losing jobs and residents.

In some neighborhoods five or more houses in a row are boarded up, as one owner after another packs up and leaves. Once they have sat vacant too long bulldozers come to demolish them.

Yesterday, in The Star I noticed this from our friends in Toronto - New Life for Neglected Buildings.

A new group of housing activists wants the city to take over neglected and underutilized buildings and convert them into affordable housing. In other words, they want property owners to face a "use it or lose it" bylaw.

Learned today that local congressman Brian Higgins has authored a new piece of federal legislation that might - huge maybe folks - help us deal much more effectively with that interseciton of urban policy, federal money and a much more effective strategy in dealing with abandoned, boarded, derelict and vacant property in Buffalo. You can track HR-3498 as it makes it way through the legislative meat grinder.

Word is HR-3498 probably won't make it out of committee. Well intended, but it won't get funded. Reason of course - we like re-builidng cities in the Middle East more than we do our own. Nice try. Back to the drawing board.

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b said...

Your link to the house resolution doesn't work.

thomas.gov returns this message:
"Error no database () or queryType (phrase) selected"

Maybe the link URL needs to include some query parameters?

b said...

Here's a link that works to HR-3498. The ones in the posts don't lead anywhere.


Basically it says the federal govt should spend $20M, $30M, and $50M in 2009, 2010, 2011 repectively, to demolish vacant houses in cities and towns with decining populations - with a very few strings attached.

I totally agree Buffalo needs more fiscal help to demolish houses, but why shouldn't Albany fund this instead of seeking to create some new federal program adding levels of D.C. bureaucrats and other inefficiencies, not to mention fed-level partisan meddling that would come along with this?

What percent of those millions would end up funding actual expenses of the intended purpose, instead of being diverted into overhead and D.C.-based costs?

And how much extra will Buffalo and other city govts across the country spend to comply with federal paperwork, hire lobblyists to get a piece of the pie on the Appropriation Commitee, etc.?

Albany's jumo sized state budget of $110B should easily find room to fund this for Buffalo, Rochester, etc., and likewise Ohio's budget for Cleveland, Youngstown, etc., PA's for Pittsburgh, and so on. The various state govts are much closer to the problem and should be much better able to make prioritizations and help ensure tax money for this is spent efficeintly and effectively.