Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) today joined in introducing the Revitalize America Act, which seeks to help reinvigorate and reinvest in America's older industrial cities by freeing up $1.9 billion in federal aid to help remove blight and repurpose abandoned properties to productive use.
The bill, which has bipartisan support and is sponsored by Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI), would give 18 states and the District of Columbia greater flexibility to spend up to 25 percent of previously allocated money under the "Hardest Hit" program to demolish and repurpose vacant units. The legislation, if passed, would free up funding for states to use on removing blight in communities.
"Abandoned homes and structures hurt communities and drive down property values. Many of these buildings are uninhabitable and won't be purchased by prospective buyers. Allowing states to use money for demolition, that's already been allocated to them, makes sense for communities and the American taxpayer," said Congressman Turner.
The bill does not spend any new money or add to the national deficit; rather it repurposes already allocated money to the states. Under the original "Hardest Hit" program, many states received significant funding, yet money has not been authorized to be spent on removing blight and demolishing abandoned houses. According to the Brookings Institution, from 2000 to 2010, the total number of vacant housing units in the U.S. grew by over 4.5 million, an increase of 44 percent.
"The Revitalize America Act will help reinvest in our nation's cities and towns by making sure they have the resources necessary to help remove and repurpose abandoned homes and commercial properties," Congressman Kildee said. "Over the past half century, cities like Flint and Detroit have lost population and been left with an oversupply of vacant and abandoned housing, which drives down property values for all homeowners in the region. Removing blight from our communities will help to increase property values for homeowners and make our neighborhoods safer by reducing crime and decreasing the number of arsons."
There are various negative impacts of vacant and abandoned properties that undermine the strength and quality of life of neighborhoods and communities across the U.S. Many of these vacant buildings and homes are health and safety hazards to the community. Additionally, abandoned houses and commercial buildings also diminish adjacent property values, contributing to a loss for both property owners as well as local municipalities.