Property Disposition Matters: The Current Status of Land Bank Programs in the United States
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Vacant and abandoned properties are a growing concern for cities across the United States. Such property has been linked to crime, declining property values, and poor health/mental health. Vacant and abandoned properties also place a financial and manpower burden on the cities in which they are located. Land banks – governmental entities with a focus on returning vacant and abandoned properties to productive use – are emerging as a strategy to address these properties.
Purpose: The purpose of this research is to describe the current status of land bank programs in the United States.
Methods: Information about land bank programs is gathered through content analysis of land bank program websites.
Results: The information available on land bank websites is extremely inconsistent across land banks. Approximately one quarter of listed land banks had no website available, and those websites that were located contained extremely inconsistent – and largely inadequate – information.
Conclusion: Studies on land bank effectiveness are needed to determine their impact on the return of vacant and abandoned properties to productive use. Such studies are made more difficult by the varying laws, regulations, and procedures governing the operation of each land bank. The information available on most land bank websites is not sufficient to provide a foundation for comparison between entities, and the improvement of publicly available data from land banks would likely benefit scholars and potential customers.