Prescription: Repurpose Housing To Save Dying Cities

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Prescription: Repurpose housing can save dying cities

“There are many other ways to repurpose excess real estate or abandoned communities. Some have suggested converting them to farms to reduce the need for food stamps or developing them into recreational facilities. One idea in particular intrigued me—giving abandoned housing away to immigrants…At the high end, we could use that excess capacity to attract immigrants from other parts of the world who could settle here and open doctors’ offices, shops, or other small businesses.”

Econovation, 2011, p.159

What Happened

Ailing Midwestern Cities Extend a Welcoming Hand to Immigrants 2013

“In north Dayton — until recently a post-apocalyptic landscape of vacant, gutted houses — 400 Turkish families have moved in, many coming from other American cities. Now white picket fences, new roofs and freshly painted porches are signs of a brisk urban renewal led by the immigrants, one clapboard house at a time.”

Home Free? 2014

“Utah’s first pilot program placed seventeen people in homes scattered around Salt Lake City, and after twenty-two months not one of them was back on the streets. In the years since, the number of Utah’s chronically homeless has fallen by seventy-four per cent.”

Detroit: The Most Exciting City in America? 2017

“RecoveryPark, on Detroit’s East Side, provides another model of urban farming entirely. The farm is in an area that was particularly hard hit by the city’s downturn. There are more vacant lots than houses. ‘We found that in order to be profitable you really need at least 10 acres,’ said Gary Wozniak, RecoveryPark’s founder. ‘You need to go large scale.’ To this end, RecoveryPark has purchased or acquired over 400 parcels of land, totaling about 60 acres in all. They are essentially a commercial farm that just happens to be in a city. A key component of RecoveryPark’s mission is to offer jobs and training to addicts and those in recovery programs who would otherwise struggle to find work.”

How Immigrants Can Revive America’s Blighted Neighborhoods 2016

“For the past year, Global Detroit has been facilitating the distressed home buying process for immigrants. ‘We’ve now completed a dozen vacant home purchases in Detroit and those have all been for less than $5,000 and a lot of these people have been fixing them up through their own sweat equity,’ Tobocman said.”

What’s Next?

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Provocative predictions & prescriptions on where innovation, economics & culture will take us. Fearless. Funny.