Many states are looking to the creation of land banks as a viable solution to the vacant and abandoned home issues plaguing the nation. It has become evident that the longer a home sits vacant, the more likely it is to lose value and even become uninhabitable, posing a threat to the neighborhood. For many properties, the best and sometimes only solution is demolition.
Last year in Indiana, House Bill 1249 passed and mandated that more studies on land banks were needed before legislation would be considered. As of December, the city of South Bend’s Vacant and Abandoned Properties Task Force was finishing its report, which outlines the strategy for addressing the problem of vacant and abandoned housing in their neighborhoods.
The task force is in support of legislation before the General Assembly that would enhance South Bend’s local efforts. State Representative Ed Clere is carrying a bill that would help communities across the state deal with thousands of properties that drain resources and diminish property values. The legislation’s ultimate goal would be to give municipalities and nonprofit corporations the authority to create land banks, which could acquire, manage and sell for redevelopment.
Also in December, in neighboring Illinois, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer introduced legislation creating a Cook County Land Bank Authority, which will acquire vacant and abandoned properties throughout the region and explore opportunities for returning them to productive use.
The introduction of the ordinance came after months of work, consideration, and analysis from the County’s Land Bank Advisory Council. A public meeting on the proposed ordinance is scheduled for the middle of January.
In the coming months, the Kansas City Land Bank will receive up to 4,000 abandoned properties, mostly vacant lots, and will provide the needed flexibility to remarket them for productive use. The land bank will automatically purchase properties that have thrice been auctioned but not sold. Although the land bank has not received any purchases yet, the biggest potential market of buyers is the “next-door neighbor” – nearby homeowners or developers.