Blight Remediation

Neighborhood blight and the presence of vacant and abandoned properties have profound negative impacts on afflicted communities of all types – rural, urban, and suburban. Blighted properties decrease surrounding property values, erode the health of local housing markets, pose safety hazards, and reduce local tax revenue. Economic disinvestment and the withdrawal of industry increase unemployment and worker migration, which lead to vacancy and deterioration. The vacancies, in turn, reduce tax revenues further for local governments, which respond by reducing public services and functions such as code enforcement, making the area even less attractive and fueling even more population loss. As indicators of blight, studies have often examined the presence of vacant lots attracting crime, dumping, abandoned or dilapidated housing and commercial and rental properties owned by non-complying absentee landlords.

The Augusta, Georgia Land Bank Authority utilizes its unique ability to acquire property via judicial inrem delinquent property tax foreclosure to acquire these structures. Those acquired properties vary in condition, being a combination of blighted and healthy properties, which will allow the organization to “tip the balance” of the neighborhood toward restored health with a limited number of renovations. Severely dilapidated structures are demolished, abandoned homes are properly moth balled to reduce opportunities for continued criminal activity and vagrants, and overgrown vacant lots are maintained to reduce infestation of vermin and increase perceptions of safety.

Tax Abatement

The growth, sustainability, and diversity of a regional economy and the adaptability and competitiveness of its workforce are critical goals to accomplish long-term prosperity. Communities must strategically plan and implement policies and incentive programs to achieve these goals. The collaboration of the AGLBA and the Augusta Economic Development Authority of Richmond County has created the Tax Incentive Abatement Program, a programmatic guideline illustrating Augusta’s need to continue to develop as a 21st century economy through global industry recruitment and workforce development in conjunction with the provision of living wage housing for surrounding communities experiencing local expansion.

The Program supports AGLBA priorities of (1) neighborhood revitalization including the return of vacant, abandoned and foreclosed property to productive status, and (2) affordable housing including the preservation, production and rehabilitation of housing for persons with low- to moderate incomes, and the preservation of long-term affordability.

Living Wage Housing

To remedy the high cost of vacant, abandoned and dilapidated structures on the values of neighborhood properties, specifically those in historically disinvested and economically depressed communities, the AGLBA created the Living Wage Housing Program. The Program is a comprehensive approach to reducing blight in designated development nodes, increasing the likelihood of development of new industry, both commercial and retail, and immediately producing needed middle housing titled “living wage housing”.

The living wage model is an alternative measure of basic needs. It is a market-based approach that draws upon geographically specific expenditure data related to a family’s likely minimum food, childcare, health insurance, housing, transportation, and other basic necessities (e.g. clothing, personal care items, etc.) costs. The living wage draws on these cost elements and the rough effects of income and payroll taxes to determine the minimum employment earnings necessary to meet a family’s basic needs while also maintaining self sufficiency. “Living Wage Housing” then is a type of intermediate housing for middle-income earners who want to own a home and build equity through the purchase of a lower priced home, but one that may exceed affordability guidelines as set by agencies like HUD or the National Low Income Housing Coalition using area median incomes (AMI) or poverty rates. Living Wage Housing provides high quality homes with sales prices based on what locally employed households can afford.