The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) issued a report in 2014 titled “Vacant and Abandoned Properties: Turning Liabilities Into Assets”

Following are the highlights with links to each section.


  • Vacant and Abandoned Properties: Turning Liabilities Into Assets
    • The absence of universal definitions of vacancy and abandonment complicates efforts to assess the number of vacant and abandoned properties nationally.
    • Vacant and abandoned properties are linked to increased rates of crime (particularly arson) and declining property values. The maintenance or demolition of vacant properties is a huge expense for many cities.
    • It is critical to match strategies for combating vacancy to neighborhood market conditions.
  • Targeting Strategies for Neighborhood Development
    • To better allocate neighborhood development funds, cities are using programs such as The Reinvestment Fund’s Market Value Analysis system to create neighborhood typologies based on local indicators.
    • Typology systems can target strategies such as code enforcement, rehabilitation, and demolition to local needs as well as anticipate areas and parcels at risk of future vacancy.
    • The Neighborhoods in Bloom program in Richmond, Virginia successfully raised property values in distressed neighborhoods by coordinating and concentrating government and nonprofit resources in seven neighborhoods.
  • Countywide Land Banks Tackle Vacancy and Blight
    • Early land banks were often statutorily limited in their jurisdiction, but over the years they have been given increasing authority to work regionally and actively acquire properties.
    • In Cuyahoga County, Ohio the land bank strategically acquires properties to effect larger-scale interventions and has multiple independent sources of funding and a well-organized inventory management database.
    • The Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank is an early example of a land bank developed to work across jurisdictions; recent state legal changes have given it the ability to fund itself by capturing a percentage of the taxes generated by the properties it returns to productive use.
  • Temporary Urbanism: Alternative Approaches to Vacant Land
    • Temporary uses can vary widely in purpose and duration; their viability depends on local market and regulatory conditions in addition to the work of entrepreneurial project initiators and their supporters.
    • Common temporary projects include community gardens and other green spaces, special events such as festivals or concert series, and stores or restaurants.
    • The experimentation and reversibility afforded by temporary use practices can encourage a multilayered approach to land use and increase the likelihood that a vacant space will eventually find permanent use.