Wednesday, July 17, 2013

University of North Texas, Habitat for Humanity, Study Spotlights Dallas' Blighted Areas




Dallas Morning News' excellent editorial on blight in the southern part of the city is a must read for those who want to know just how much work needs to be done to redevelop key areas of Dallas.

For decades now, those of us who have advocated for such redevelopment have seen timid responses to those calls, with both city council members, neighborhood association and civic organizations sponsoring neighborhood clean-ups and work days. However, the largest causes for blight: abandoned buildings, debris, vacant lots owned by people outside the community, accumulating liens through fees and unpaid taxes, call for the response of the city of Dallas. But they cost money in lost revenue. According to the editorial, based on a study by the University of North Texas commissioned by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Dallas, "...the city lost approximately $142.7 million in uncollected tax revenue between 1994 and 2010 because of blight." 

The study and the editorial presents a picture that most city leaders and citizens would like to ignore. They have encouraged DMN and others to focus on 'the good things' going on in South Dallas. I think there should be a focus on those good things. But the editorial has it right...


"The value in studies such as the one by UNT and Habitat is that they present city leaders with undeniable proof of the costs associated with neglect. Littered, vacant lots might not seem like such a big priority over the short term. Or when a property owner earns a little extra cash by turning his yard into a storage space for junk cars, it’s easy for code enforcers to let that infraction slide, especially if no one complains about it."
"But if such factors are allowed to accumulate for years at a time, they tend to combine and multiply. A once vibrant neighborhood becomes an ugly, unlivable mess."
It's expensive, but we can clean up the blight. Then we can have many more 'good things' to focus on...

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