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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Seaside and Suburban Slums

As more homes move into foreclosure, local governments are under increasing pressure to clean up the neighborhoods. A front-page story in the Dayton Beach News-Journal says that as scores of homeowners move into default—some in seaside communities such as Ormond By the Sea—local police and code-enforcement departments are having a hard time keeping up with the growing number of overgrown yards and falling-down houses. That creates a problem for the rest of the neighborhood, needless to say.

With the number of foreclosures continuing to mount from the fallout of the housing bust, more properties could fall into seediness. But apparently it will be up to residents to steer government to do something about it.

Carol Kerrigan, Volusia County's code enforcement manager, acknowledged it's a growing problem, but her officers only respond to complaints from residents and don't proactively cite offenders.

"The philosophy of code enforcement is to let each neighborhood determine the level of tolerance it will accept," Kerrigan said.

For a home in foreclosure, however, often the property is in the control of a bank, and the financial institution cannot do any maintenance until the foreclosure is final, she said.

The problem isn't confined to Florida's seaside communities, of course. A grim piece in The Atlantic asserts that abandoned McMansions in suburbs across America could create suburban slums.

[Photo credit: Jawad Zakariya]