Blight Remediation in the Southeast: Local Approaches to Design and Implementation

28 Pages Posted: 4 May 2016  

Ann Carpenter

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Emily Mitchell

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Shelley Price

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Date Written: 2015-11-01

Abstract

Blight — or the proliferation of vacant, abandoned, or poorly maintained properties — is a critical community issue in many cities in the Southeast as in other regions of the United States, as economic shifts experienced in the past few decades have changed neighborhoods significantly. Municipalities dealing with this issue recognize what is well documented in the literature — that blight is associated with social, economic, environmental, and public health effects on neighborhoods. The recent recession has led to a surge of abandoned and bank-owned properties, disproportionately located in poor and unstable neighborhoods. The causes of blight vary by city and even by neighborhood, but many cities are dealing with blighted parcels as a result of some combination of suburbanization, population decline, job losses (particularly in the manufacturing sector), foreclosures, and natural events that render structures or lots unusable. Southeastern cities are also unique in that lower population densities often deter revitalization.

To understand how various blight remediation strategies have been implemented, we selected two case study communities for analysis, which included extensive interviews with local stakeholders. We chose New Orleans, Louisiana, and Macon, Georgia, based on their location, size, the extent of their blight issues, and their commitment to blight remediation. New Orleans and Macon have each experienced significant blight and are leaders in the Southeast in creating and refining robust strategies for combating blight.

This paper describes several findings in terms of regional blight remediation efforts. Lessons learned include the importance of data collection and visualization, the need for an overarching, jurisdiction-wide blight strategy, the value of transparent and realistic metrics, the need for strong leadership and strategic partnerships that leverage political will and resources, the need for public participation, and the effectiveness of strategies such as strong code enforcement and land banking over expropriation or eminent domain.

Keywords: blight, vacant property, code enforcement, local policy

JEL Classification: H70, K11, R11, R38

Suggested Citation

Carpenter, Ann and Mitchell, Emily and Price, Shelley, Blight Remediation in the Southeast: Local Approaches to Design and Implementation (2015-11-01). FRB Atlanta Community and Economic Development Discussion Paper No. 2015-5. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2774636

Ann Carpenter (Contact Author)

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta ( email )

Emily Mitchell

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Shelley Price

Federal Reserve Banks - Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

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