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.