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The City of Chicago's Abandoned Property Pivot


When the City of Chicago first began addressing the challenge of abandoned properties, it was focusing the majority of its efforts on buying, rehabbing, and reselling abandoned properties. However, as WBEZ reports, this was often easier said than done.

One challenge in purchasing abandoned properties is figuring out who is the owner of the property. While some abandoned properties were already bank-owned, it was soon discovered that many properties were adrift in the foreclosure process or owned by an absentee investor or property owner.

The city also ran into problems trying to sell the homes that it had purchased and rehabbed. Some people who were interested in purchasing couldn't meet the lending requirements to obtain a mortgage.

So, instead of continuing with a process that wasn't working, the city pivoted and began prioritizing rentals. By rehabbing and renting properties, in particular existing multi-unit properties, the city has managed to provide affordable, modern housing in some of its hardest hit neighborhoods.

However, given the city's size and the sheer number of abandoned properties has made it impossible to focus on every area at once. Instead, the city is focusing on nine "micro-markets" to help perfect its process. In addition to rehabilitating properties, the efforts include outreach to existing home owners, providing them with information and resources to assist them with avoiding foreclosure.

Although the process won't be fast, that the city is rethinking less-than-successful strategies and trying new things is a good sign. It is highly unlikely that the foreclosure crisis will stop any time soon. This is why its good to see rehabilitation efforts going hand-in-hand with foreclosure prevention efforts.

Here's hoping that a city as large as Chicago manages to remain nimble in its response to the foreclosure crisis.