Abandoned property problem will not end

abandoned-propertyThe city land bank is slowly selling a few of its thousands of vacant and abandoned properties, but the problem will not go away, its director reported Tuesday.

David Park, deputy director of Neighborhood and Community Services, told the mayor and city manager that sales have been slow partly because more legal work is needed to clear titles.

City Manager Troy Schulte said the city plans to hire more staff for that and also hire a consulting group to help.

But Mayor Sly James told Park, “You’re going to have this problem for decades” and many other cities have it as well.

Detroit decided to demolish its vacant, abandoned and damaged buildings, but James wondered if Kansas City could somehow use them to house the homeless.

Park said some are being sold and renovated as low-income housing. The land bank has no mandate or funds to renovate houses that are often in very poor shape.

Schulte said that in the Manheim Park neighborhood people were talking of following up the successful renovation of the Bancroft school with new single family housing.

They recently suggested getting 61 land bank vacant lots for the housing, he said.

Park said the bank was seeing more demand for properties from young buyers attracted to the urban lifestyle.

James said the city needs to do what it can to address the problem.

“Some of our neighborhoods look like a person who has not had dental care because there are so many gaps and holes between houses,” he said.

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