Authors: James R. Cohen
Fannie Mae Foundation

Population loss and economic decline have resulted in thousands of abandoned homes in major U.S. cities. Although abandoned homes are symptomatic of other problems, they also contribute to neighborhood decline and frustrate revitalization. This article provides an overview of the national scope of abandoned housing and profiles Baltimore's strategy for addressing this problem. Challenges in Baltimore's revitalization planning include the necessity of and financial requirements for a comprehensive approach and the difficulty of reaching consensus. Widespread property flipping hampers prevention. Efforts to acquire and demolish units are constrained by difficulties in tracking ownership, felons' ownership of derelict units, and a shortage of staffing to process takings. Challenges in rehabilitating and marketing row houses include the need for subsidies to make units affordable to the most likely buyers, the omnipresence of lead paint, and the lack of foreign immigration. The article proposes a more strategic approach to the city's revitalization planning.

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