Tribune editorial: The Promise of a land bank

The worst repercussions of the housing crisis are apparently behind us, at least in some communities. Fewer homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. Many are still underwater but have a sense, at least, that they’re catching up. Home sales in some neighborhoods have been remarkably brisk.

But some of the Chicago area’s most struggling neighborhoods were devastated by the collapse in home prices, and they’re a long, long way from recovering. Blocks of empty lots and unkempt, abandoned buildings pose a huge obstacle to recovery. They’re a threat to public safety. They erode the value of other properties. They put financial pressure on cities to keep up with maintenance and services. They prompt an exodus of people and an exodus of investors.

One promising answer to this: The Cook County Land Bank Authority is preparing to open for business this fall. It’s modeled after land banks in communities such as Flint, Mich., that have acquired and returned to the tax rolls thousands of unwanted properties…Please click here to read the full Tribune editorial.

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