Everyone sees the houses and buildings going to blight in our towns.
If you’re in the property business, it’s even worse, because we actually “get” to go inside them and experience the blight up close. As I drive around the midstate, as well as right near our home, I see blighted properties and near-blight situations on almost every street.
What is this about? The downturn in 2008 threw off thousands of foreclosed properties as owner literally walked away – the “strategic default” side effect of skittish owners and depressed property values that plagued us for several years. The region is still grappling in 2014 with orphaned properties – there’s a house in particular near Lancaster I drive by every week that is still uninhabited and fallen to pieces, right in the middle of a typical suburban street.
Blight also is reflected in owners doing little to maintain their homes – in my local governmental role I watch us chasing owners who leave trash piles, furniture and extra cars in their yards. Unbelievable in suburban PA, but true.
I would posit that at least some of these problem owners are grappling with layoffs, family disintegrations and the like – not exactly an excuse to the neighbors, but in the end somewhat understandable. I know that, aside from tracking blighted properties and filing liens for maintenance interventions, municipalities can do little but wait out the process.
I’d like to say that with the foreclosure stats falling off we’ll see less blight around us. I’d really like to say that. At the local level, though, it’s not panning out that way so far. And my son has taken to pointing out the “abandoned houses” he sees out the car window; he says it all too often as we drive on the roads and highways.
They say time heals all wounds. I sincerely look forward to putting some of this behind us – the banks, the foreclosures, the neglect and its consequences.
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