With a total of 5.8 million vacant units, I wonder whether there is SOME kind of investment opportunity there----though i'm not going to relocate to the Midwest to find out.
Vacant buildings—especially ones that stretch through blocks of neighborhoods—have reached “epidemic levels” in some cities, according to a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy titled “The Empty House Next Door.” Formerly industrial cities in the Rust Belt are seeing the highest levels of what researchers call “hypervacancy.” Hypervacancy consists of blocks and neighborhoods of vacant buildings and lots that comprise 20 percent or more of the housing stock of an area.
The cities with 10 percent or more of all units vacant, according to 2010 census data, are: Gary, Ind.; Detroit; Flint, Mich.; Dayton, Ohio; Cleveland; St. Louis; Buffalo, N.Y.; Baltimore; Birmingham; Pittsburgh; Chicago; Philadelphia; and Milwaukee. One out of every two census tracts in Cleveland are considered hypervacant. In Gary, 25,000 vacant homes or lots cover 40 percent of the city’s parcels, according to the report.
No wonder these cities are having a problem digging out of their housing hole----(which is why Detroit has never quite been able to struggle back, even if certain areas have recovered.)
The report highlights the fact that some urban areas have never really recovered from the last crash, namely:
In the report, Mallach explains that these high levels of vacancy fundamentally disrupt the local housing markets. "Houses sell, if they sell at all, only to investors at rock bottom prices while the neighborhoods become areas of concentrated poverty, unemployment, and health problems."
Mallach also spotlights increases in the number of properties that have been “effectively abandoned”—unused, empty properties that are neither for sale nor for rent. According to the report, the number of units that are effectively abandoned has increased nationally from 3.7 million in 2005 to 5.8 million in 2016. That was an uptick of 2.1 million units—”roughly equal to five times the entire housing stock of San Francisco.”
The report lays out contributing factors that need to be addressed, such as convoluted foreclosure processes, but also highlights how various communities are working to combat the problem. According to the report, Baltimore has successfully put 1,300 units back into circulation since 2010, thanks to the use of receivership and partnerships with for-profit and non-profit developers.
The report also cites initiatives in Cleveland and Philadelphia that worked to demolish abandoned properties and convert the lots to community green space.
The report recommends that affected cities adopt better data collection strategies on their local vacancies, make it easier for the properties to be repurposed, and "balance demolition with rehabilitation as part of a larger strategy for revival.”