Portland Sets in Motion Cleanup of Zombie Homes
Zombie home reform part 2
The fight on zombie homes continues in the city of Portland as earlier this month Mayor Charlie Hales began to put his vision into action. The city council met on June 15th and voted to start the process that Hales pioneered back in April (see The Unwalking Dead: Portland’s Ongoing Fight for Affordable Housing).
The council voted to foreclose on a trial grouping of five zombie homes throughout the city. These properties are: 4112-4118 S.E. 91st Ave.; 15803 S.E. Powell Blvd.; 7101 N.E. Prescott St.; 9120 N. Tioga St.; and 8515-8517 N. Portsmouth Ave. The council’s vote is only the beginning in what has been called a potentially lengthy process.
The city of Portland hasn’t foreclosed on a property since the 1960’s and, therefore, has pretty rusty code to deal with foreclosures. That’s not to say that they aren’t equal to the task, however. The City Council also voted to implement a process that would allow the City of Portland to be able to sell the homes for fair market value not just for the amount owed in liens (in some situations this is hundreds of thousands of dollars).
You may be wondering what fixing up and selling 5 run down homes does for the city’s housing issues. Well, this pilot program would pave the way for future City acquisitions and also allow for a speedier reform process. It has even been proposed that the City tag and catalogue the hundreds if not thousands of such homes. This presents a huge boon to home buyers (especially those seeking affordable homes), in a time when Portland sees home prices rising 11 percent year over year, as many of the homes are in neighborhoods that would support new construction under $300,000.
In fact, Mayor Hales spoke to this issue directly, “It’s fundamentally crazy that we have houses sitting empty in a market where a ‘For Sale’ or a ‘For Rent’ sign would cure that by tomorrow morning,” Hales said. “We’ve got to light up every single one of these homes with people living in them.”
And light up they intend to do. The process is just beginning on these 5 homes but Hales has already given an additional 25-30 homes to the City’s Foreclosure Manger to begin moving through as well. Though there were some initial obstacles it seems like Hales and crew are assembling quite a capable team.
One thing’s for sure, as homes continue to get more scarce in Portland, the zombie house reform project looks to be an exciting ray of hope for those desperately searching for a place to call home.