Success stories in affordable housing, minimum housing standards

Worth your time today: This column by Susan Ladd of the News & Record in Greensboro that looks at too-seldom celebrated success in the movement for affordable housing and strengthening minimum housing standards.

The story centers on efforts by the Center for Community Progress, Greensboro Housing Coalition and the city’s Minimum Housing Standards Coalition to recognize properties that have gone from condemned to assets to the community. The home highlighted in the column, owned by Scott Garner, went from being blighted and unlivable to an affordable family home in an area that needs more of that type of housing stock.

From Ladd’s column:

The story of this particular home also spotlights how recent changes to Greensboro’s code enforcement can bring properties back into the city’s much-needed affordable housing stock, said Beth McKee-Huger, a longtime advocate for affordable housing. “It wasn’t the worst property ever, but it is right across from a school,” McKee-Huger said. “We thought it could be a danger to schoolchildren.”

Vacant properties attract vandals and squatters who may be using or selling drugs. City inspectors found the house open and ordered that it be boarded-up. The property was condemned and under review by the Minimum Housing Standards Commission, which can order that a property be repaired or demolished. If the owner refuses to act, the city can repair or demolish and put a lien on the property for the cost. This more often motivates property owners to repair the properties or sell them to someone else.

Since the city shortened the timeline for compliance in 2013 and added the option of city-paid repairs in 2015, this demolition list has gone from stagnant to revolving, said Beth Benton, division manager for Code Compliance.

The City of Greensboro and Guilford County have had a lot of success with their respective minimum housing standard ordinances, despite attempts by the General Assembly to limit what municipalities can do in this area.

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