Vacant Properties and Their Negative Impact on Neighborhoods
Vacant properties are an all too common occurrence in neighborhoods today as vacancy rates have increased to over 11% (“Housing units summary,” 2012). With homeowners’ finances in a downward spiral many people are forced to walk away from their homes. Abandonment will often leave the properties empty for months, if not years, as the banks try to recoup their money. During this time the innocent members of the community are forced to bear the liabilities vacancies heap upon society. Unoccupied properties are a blight on neighborhoods causing low collective morale, increased crime, and financial burdens on the entire community. Boarded up windows and overgrown landscaping trigger feelings of discontent with the people forced to live around it day in and day out. Citizens who work hard to keep their own portion of the neighborhood neat and picturesque may harbor resentment for the unkempt properties. As if that was not enough, in communities that have Home Owner Associations it results in additional neighborhood inspections. These inspections often penalize homeowners who have committed less offensive infractions while the major offenders continue to neglect their properties. All of these factors instigate antipathy throughout the neighbors and create a decreased confidence in civic fairness. In addition to the unappealing views, vacancies lead to a higher crime rate. With empty buildings comes a sense of indifference that is a magnet for the criminal element. Vandalism and trespassing are just the benign tip of the iceberg. “Blocks with unsecured [vacant] buildings had 3.2 times as many drug calls to police, 1.8 times as many theft calls and twice the number of violent calls as blocks without vacant buildings” (Hirokawa, 2010, footnote 7). Criminals think that as no one is looking too hard at the vacant buildings they will not be noticed committing their deeds. The Broken Window Syndrome is...
References: Hirokawa, K. H., & Gonzalez, I. (2010). Regulating Vacant Property. Urban Lawyer, 42(3), 627-637.
Housing units summary report. (2012). Demographics Now, Library Edition
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