National Vacant Properties Campaign

Washington, DC (July 9, 2003)- The National Vacant Properties Campaign exists to provide everyone – individuals, advocates, agencies, developers, nonprofits, and others – with information resources, tools, and assistance to support their vacant property revitalization efforts.

Far from being confined to urban and industrial areas, the abandonment of properties is a national phenomenon. Rapid growth on the fringes of many metropolitan regions has sucked development from urban cores and inner-ring suburbs, leaving abandoned buildings and vacant properties. Abandonment takes many forms – houses left behind because of suburban migration, industrial downsizing, and predatory lending practices, once vibrant downtowns turned into ghost towns, or local retail stores abandoned when large, regional centers moved in. No matter how the phenomenon manifests itself, the increasingly profound effects of vacant properties are the same: lower tax revenues, higher municipal costs, and serious environmental and public health consequences. Before communities can plot their comeback, they must address the scourge of vacant properties.
The nationwide scope of the problem is difficult to measure. Residential housing units are counted differently than vacant land, retail, or industrial properties; definitions of “vacant” vary across communities; many cities have no central agency tracking vacant properties at all.
According the Brookings Institution, Vacant and abandoned properties occupy about 15 percent of the area of the typical large city, more than 12,000 acres on average. (Pagano & Bowman, 2000) This is usable land already connected to urban infrastructure. For metropolitan areas looking to accommodate growth without consuming the surrounding countryside, these properties amount to a large reservoir of land for well-planned development.
Fortunately, many cities are realizing the opportunity that these properties represent to their redefine their communities. Cities like Philadelphia, Pa. and Flint, Mich. are joined by others such as San Diego, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and Louisville, Ky. in taking aggressive action to attack the problem and prevent it from spreading.
The Campaign captures model practices, shares them with other communities, and helps inspire creativity and leadership in communities nationwide.
Find out more at the National Vacant Properties Campaign.