The issue of vacant and abandoned properties has been a major concern for South Bend and cities like us throughout the Midwest. The economic shocks of past decades, combined with population shifts and changes in the housing market, have combined to leave communities like ours with more homes than families can fill, and many teetering on the brink between demolition and rehabilitation.
Shortly after taking office in 2011, Mayor Pete Buttigieg convened a group of city and county officials, private sector practitioners, and neighborhood advocates to form a working group on this policy challenge. Co-chaired by academic expert Jim Kelly from the Law School of the University of Notre Dame, this group took on the dual challenge of analyzing the dimensions of South Bend’s problem, and assessing the elements of a comprehensive solution.
The result of this yearlong effort is the Vacant & Abandoned Properties Taskforce Report.*
The City of South Bend’s Department of Code Enforcement conducted a citywide survey of all homes in the spring of 2011 to identify vacant and abandoned properties. Code Enforcement used the following definitions for its survey:
- Vacant property – no one has lived in the house for at least 90 days
- Abandoned property – the home is vacant (according to above definition) AND has a code violation that has not been addressed for more than 30 days.