When the city of Minneapolis first began tracking and boarding up the growing number of vacant homes in 2004, abandoned properties in the city totaled around 250. That included homes that were vacant and/or condemned for all years prior, some going back to early 2000. Now, in just the first six months of this year, Minneapolis has added another 250 homes to its record list of vacant and condemned properties.
Since 2004, the original list has grown to nearly 950 vacant properties, an increase of 260 percent. For as much as it has swelled, this list only includes the properties still standing. Not included on the list are the large number of properties that, as the foreclosure crisis continues to unfold, have been abandoned and later demolished by the city for condemnation and lack of maintenance. In one week in March of this year alone, for example, the city bulldozed five properties in the Hawthorne neighborhood. According to Tom Deegan in the city’s regulatory services division, the city does not have a current list of demolished homes.
What’s more, the city’s vacant-properties list still misses a handful of abandoned homes. The list only includes properties registered with the city as vacant, a process that comes with a $1,000 price tag, which is charged to the current homeowner and, in many cases, to the banks who now own the foreclosed properties. Most of the time, the banks don’t pay the fee, and the charge is forwarded to any new buyer, if there ever is one. Deegan says abandoned homes cost the city nearly $500,000 annually in boarding up and maintenance fees alone.
It’s not just north Minneapolis that’s getting decimated by the foreclosure epidemic and the resulting abandoned homes. While it’s true that more than half of the city’s vacant homes are in those north-side neighborhoods, a growing number are in south and northeast Minneapolis. In south Minneapolis, the Phillips neighborhood has been hit with 33 abandoned homes this year. That’s a nearly 100 percent increase in the number of abandoned homes that neighborhood has seen in six months than it saw in the previous three years combined.
In fact, the blight of the foreclosure crisis is sprinkled all over the city (tony neighborhoods also have a few vacant properties sticking out like sore thumbs) and is rapidly spreading to the other parts of the city. Northeast Minneapolis, a hotbed of gentrification, has added 23 vacant properties to the list in the first six months of this year, in neighborhoods like Bottineau,Sheridan, Holland, Waite Park, Logan Park and Audubon Park.
The chances of the these homes being purchased and renovated grow slimmer every day. Of the 950 or so abandoned properties on the list, more than 60 percent of them have been deemed “condemned” by the city.
Read the city’s vacant house report (PDF).