Will vacancy cost Obama votes?

It’s hard to do grassroots canvassing when most of the neighborhood is in foreclosure.

“The nation’s foreclosure crisis rarely is mentioned by the presidential candidates, but it looms large as their campaigns grapple with finding evicted voters in swing states.

Organizers are discovering scores of vacated homes in key battlegrounds that contributed strong turnouts in the 2008 election. In the past four years, more than 3.7 million homes have been lost to foreclosure, according to market research firm CoreLogic. Continue reading

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The Worst Neighbor? A Bank

https://i0.wp.com/www.marketplace.org/sites/marketplace.org/files/styles/200x200/public/young_1.jpg

photo credit: Tess Vigeland (via Marketplace.org)

I just heard a really poignant Marketplace report on the impact of vacancy on neighborhoods.  With the rash of foreclosures following the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, many properties came into the sole possession of banks, including Bank of America and JPMorgan.  Putting aside the damage done by the foreclosure process itself, what is perhaps more destructive is the vacancy that follows.

The biggest issue?  Banks don’t take care of these properties.  And it’s easy for disrepair to become blight, especially in a neighborhood plagued by systemic vacancy. Continue reading

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Lessons Learned: Affordability, Matters of Land

So much of the narrative around affordable housing development conjures up imagines of raising walls and giving the keys to hardworking new homeowners. And to be honest, this is a huge part.  That homeowner is going to have their life changed, “getting a foot on the ladder” up out of poverty (to borrow an analogy from my Bike & Build teammate, Amy).  It’s an incredible moment for the new homeowner and their family.

Let’s think long-term.  Somewhere down the line, the homeowner might want to move or sell their home, just like any other homeowner.  What’s the problem with that? Continue reading

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Lessons Learned: Invest in Volunteerism

What’s better than a volunteer? A volunteer who can train other volunteers.

Habitat for Humanity is well-known for its use of volunteers.  Many of you have probably swung a hammer or dipped a paintbrush with a local Habitat affiliate. And our  team did a lot of hammering and painting during build days.  After all, when 20 extra able bodies show up to your site, having lots of easy, low-skill work is great.

Take this paint brush.  Paint.  (Of course, being hospitable, Habitat did say ‘Please.’) Continue reading

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Lessons Learned: Local Markets Matter

New development outside Colorado Springs, CO

This is kind of a “Duh” sort of lesson, but every community we visited was its own unique case of why local housing markets matter.  Even between communities that had tight housing markets, the conditions that create an affordability squeeze aren’t the same. Continue reading

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