This link for Detroit, http://unstructuredlibertynetworks.wordpress.com/2010/02/20/detroit-residential-parcel-survey-and-right-sizing-the-city/ , points to several articles about a plan to "right-size" the city of Detroit. If this succeeds is it something we should look at for Toledo? In the Old South End of Toledo there are dozens (maybe hundreds) of vacant lots and houses. Some people like it that way. My street is "quiet". Out of the 14 properties on my block five are vacant, and 3 of the 4 "houses" facing other streets are vacant (two of them are likely beyond repair). I've often joked with a fire here, and a fire there, my corner of the city is being returned to pasture.
Comments ... #
Honestly, more green and open space in a city that isnt just a weed covered lot is nice. Wasnt the city talking about even selling some vacant lots to the homes and businesses next to them for cheap to encourage that the spaces be cultivated and put to some use / maintained?
Demolition of any homes that have been vacant for years is not only good to clean things up a bit - but also to help the housing market some as well. Get rid of the supply, clean up the lots, and property values should start going back up some. Not to mention, more green space - like Kimono state - would be nice as long as they are cared for. Perhaps allow neighbors to purchase (at a discount) the empty lots, after they are cleaned up, to expand their yard and such.
Once they are bought the owner is responsible for maintaining it, to include cutting the grass. Apple iPhone may have an "App" for that, but replace it with any city and it is more like "They have a Fine for that".
I dont think that tearing down more homes is the answer to better neighborhoods. The city should encourage community organizations and builders to rehab and infill those lots. The neighborhoods need people to retain their strength, and removing places for people to live discourages that. In the end, too many of the houses in central Toledo are not built for the kind of life that people envision for themselves. The rooms are too small, the houses too close together, and are often not energy efficient. Over time, Toledo and other cities will have to rebuild their central cities, not just tear down and hope for the best.
Many cities such as Chicago and St. Louis have attempted to revitalize their historic areas by offering rather large tax incentives for those that buy in those historic or special areas.
I know for a fact the incentive in St. Louis was a property tax abatement for 5 years--my brother-and-sister-in-law owned a house about a mile from the Budweiser brewery (near Tower Grove Park in STL for those that are familiar with the city). It was a home built in the 1890's that they gutted and rebuilt from the bricks in. It was huge and it was beautiful--and it cost about 30-40% less than constructing a new house elsewhere. Since there was an influx of people who cared about their property and defended it against hoodlums (both politically, financially, and sometimes physically), the revitalized neighborhood drove out the "trash" that had infected it for so long. A number of professionals and young families live in this area now.
Since I know offering any sort of a worthwhile tax incentive to leadership in Toledo is like showing garlic to a vampire, I'll shut up now...
I was one of the people looking to buy a nice historical home in Toledo and restore it. WAS.
We were shopping the old west end for a house to preserve....toured a few homes, found one we wanted to buy. We were serious.
After touring the home, we then went to watch the elementary school get out near by. We wanted to see the kind of crowd of children that went to the schools there: as we have children. so the kind of schools are important.
OMFG. This was before school uniforms. Without trying to be overly dramatic...I have never seen a more ghetto hoodlum lot of elemetary children ever. If we had purchased the property we would have been forced to send the kids to a private school. We cant afford that.
Thus....we did not buy a historical home to restore, because...TPS suck.
IMHO, lots of vacant homes should be demolished. There are some neighborhoods in town with tiny lots and limited yard space. I would only buy a home in such tight quarters if I could purchase adjoining lots and use them to build myself a garage and have room for a garden.
People's lifestyles and preferences change as the decades go by. What was ideal for a shift worker who walked to an auto plant, patronized the corner tavern, and shopped in the big stores downtown is not at all suitable for the lifestyle of someone who has kids in soccer programs, who needs a quiet home office for telecommuting, and who like to grow vegetables.
There was a baby boom that is entering the retirement years (and selling their houses). Will there truly be millions of young families in the years ahead, looking to buy small houses within the city limits?
If my street is typical, my next door neighbor (who is 88) will live in her house until she goes to a nursing home. He son (who is coming to live with her) will either sell it, or continue to live there. If he sells it he will not find a comparable place without putting up more money (since he is coming to live with her because he ran out of unemployment in California I doubt that will happen). There is also a second brother (who has control of her finances) and should prevent any foolish choices by the first.
Neighbor on the other side (who is on SSI) dreams of moving to a "better" neighborhood. I doubt she will be able to leave. Neighbor across the street is barely hanging on. Her husband was caught (he had never applied for citizenship even though he had raised his children here) and sent to Mexico. She and her retarded daughter live quietly in their home. Most people who live in their ramshackle homes in the Old South End are going to live out their lives there (it is home and affordable).
After they pass the homes might be rented or sold to even poorer people by their heirs. Or their homes will be sold to satisfy the requirements for living in nursing homes with Medicaid.
I doubt the vacant homes will be demolished any time soon. That will be one of the first things to stop when we finally move to balance the budget. Occasional fires (either through structural failure or arson) will render homes uninhabitable, and they will be put on the list for future demolition but that won't be anytime soon.
Does anyone remember the Federal "Urban Renewal" Program of the '60's? This fancy name was a diguise to tear down the Getto areas of Toledo (and it was also done in Detroit), which coincidently were predominately Black minority neighborhoods. It was an attempt to remove the eyesores of what the Slum Lords of the day built.
A lot of Toledoans made a lot of money off of that program. Well, it appears we may see another round of the same thing. That is if the Federal money is supplied.
I personally think the city, if able, demolish whole neighborhoods. Look at what Cleveland did. They were able to demolish a couple of neighborhoods and sold them back to developers, they built new modern houses and people moved back in. Like a few have said, what I think the city should do is allow for more space between housing. In some places that would mean changing the infrastructure. My example, I live in West Toledo and if they had the ability to cut out a street here or here, it could allow for more spacious housing. Obviously, this area would take many years for it to come to this, but it's just an example. I honestly don't know how much it costs to demolish a house, but I'm sure if the city could sell whole blocks or neighborhoods they could make money on it. Invite private investment to build the housing and it hopefully cleans up the area. In a perfect world right? ;o)
It's time for people to stop drinking the real-estate KoolAid. Destroying housing a la "potlatch" is not going to save your stupid house values. Toledo is losing over 1000 people each year and there's no reason whatsoever to expect that that trend will stop in the mid-term future.
The thing to do with empty housing is to RETURN IT TO SERVICE. That won't "restore" your surrounding house values, since returning such houses to service pretty much means giving them via contract to poor people who aren't known for making housing pretty enough for your tastes ... but it will stop the more intensive degradation when houses go empty, get infested or burn, and have to be demolished.
I must repeat: Potlatch is a CULTURAL SICKNESS. Destroying assets to make YOUR assets worth more (in theory), is barbarous and well beneath what Americans claim to possess as moral standing. Our excess housing stock should NOT just be torn down and then trucked into our ever-bulging landfills.
Instead of expressing such a hidden and intense hatred of the poor, we should swallow our White, middle-class pride and welcome the poor back into our neighborhoods. Heck, we might even go so crazy as to help them maintain their houses, since one of the real strengths of the American middle class is in its generosity.
GZ, I think that as the fire department is reduced in manpower, accidental fires and arson will claim more of the vacant housing that blots our landscape. Those who wish to have larger yards will only have to bide their time. As for filling the vacant homes with people, the gulf between what owners value their property as, and what people are willing to pay, is quite wide.
Oldsend, your previous post re: neighbors made me think about my surroundings. In our W. Toledo neighborhood, directly surrounding my house, we have a young family (adding on a bedroom; not likely to move or trade up since they like the schools); a bachelor whose house is stuffed with a relative's possessions in addition to his own; a pair of grandparents; a retired man who lives alone; a retired couple who want to move to Arizona; a family with 1 teen left in the school system; another retired couple. Farther down the street: retired, retired, retired.
I read a study that indicated by the year 2016, there will be more houses for sale in the state of Ohio than people who want to buy them. If I were looking to sell a house, I'd do it before then.
As it is, I'll just stay put and raise chickens in the yard!
Viola, I helped my parents move into the house I now own in July, 1970. I got out of the Army in late August 1970. I had two brothers under seven years old then. They had lots of kids to play with on the street. Now we have one family with kids under 10, and one with a kid in the eight grade. We have four houses out of 16 vacant plus 3 of 4 houses on the corner of the street vacant (they have other street addresses).
If there are more houses for sale in the state of Ohio than people to buy them I wonder if it is even worse in Toledo. I guess we could contract with the poor (per GZ's suggestion) so they would have a place to live (even if it comes to be that it is free because the renter cannot pay). That would transfer taxes we now pay for Section 8 housing to individual landlords (but undercutting those who wish to profit from renting to others).
My experience with renting for profit has been checkered. Most of the time I just say to myself "Well, at least the place is occupied." I have never had a security deposit, never rented for more than $300, and still four out of the five renters failed to pay their rent the last two or three months before they left. The best one I had was a bachelor whose goal was to move out West to climb mountains like he did when younger (he finally got to do that). He re-roofed the house in exchange for two months free rent, and lived like a monk. Very tidy, even after he brought two sled dogs into the house. It was just the luck of the draw with him.
I keep the house I sometimes rent out in case my brothers or sister runs into bad luck, and can't make their house payment. It would be cheaper than giving them money when they down on their luck.
Saw this when I stopped at the Kroger's on Navarre, http://detnews.com/article/20100309/METRO01/3090379/1409/Detroit-s-desolate-middle-makes-downsizing-tough . It seems a little like my Old South End. Though I think we have more occupancy in this part of town. Its just the occasional fire that burns out a family, or renders a vacant home unoccupiable.
One thing that is not considered in Detroit is the human cost. I would not leave my neighbor (who will be 89 in May) just to move to a nicer home. I would not sell my vacant house to some scumbag, and let him/her turn it into a crack house. I try to help the neighbors I have (if I value them) and ignore the rest.
When these people in Detroit are moved out of their homes will they be able to make the transition to strangers. People in their 80s are often not able to make that transition smoothly. They only wish to stay in surroundings they know, and have contact with people they know. That's why I like my neighborhood. It is quiet. I just worry about properties that have been vacant five or more years being set on fire by some thrill-seeker.
OSEB, you've seen the life lessons that I've well learned without having to endure them. I could be renting out some of my own property, but the sad fact is that poor Toledoans think that they don't have to pay rent. Making the rent cheaper doesn't seem to help, and in fact seems to attract more of the type that think you have to provide their living space as a direct cost out of your own pocket. In short, from this and other examples, Toledoans have no concept of capital investment.
In addition to not expecting to pay rent, the types that you attract with cheap rent are largely addicts, who bring a big set of social problems into your property, which invariably result in property damage. Who needs that sort of crap? Broken windows and doors from drunken fights ... screw it.
GZ, my brother found the mountain climber. He tells me if I decide to rent again to let him manage it for me. He doesn't feel sorry for people, and will either get the money or remove the renter. I think I'll be taking him up on it.