Best Practices in Addressing Vacant Property

Older urban and rural communities across Michigan face unprecedented stockpiles of vacant and abandoned property. Vacant properties lower the visual appeal and economic value of a neighborhood and present dangers resulting from code violations and criminal activity. In an effort to respond to these negative side-effects, CEDAM members use creative approaches to stabilize vacant properties.

Community Legal Resources (CLR) is leading an effort with Detroit LISC, the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, and CDAD to address the vacant property epidemic in Detroit through the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign (DVPC). The DVPC provides technical support and legal assistance to community groups attempting to address vacant property problems and has developed a Vacant Property Legal Manual and local guides for communities to protect and maintain vacant property safely and legally.

The Center for Community Progress (formerly the Genesee Institute) provides technical assistance to jurisdictions interested in establishing land banking programs. In addition, the Center provides the opportunity for planning and research on issues related to vacant, abandoned and tax foreclosed properties, sustainable neighborhoods, shrinking cities, economic revitalization, urban sprawl, and growth management.

Michigan’s first land bank, the Genesee County Land Bank operates an Adopt-a-Lot program that encourages neighbors to care for abandoned properties and a Side Lot program that allows homeowners to purchase adjacent lots for $25.

The Ingham County Land Bank often concentrates on an entire neighborhood that needs reinvestment. It buys, renovates, and resells multiple properties in a designated area with the goal of owner-occupancy.