Vacant Houses

Vacant houses come with a high price tag. They can become breeding grounds for crime and dumping grounds for trash. Not surprisingly, these abandoned houses will drive down a neighborhood's property values and cost us all tax dollars - both in the form of revenue not being collected from property taxes and the expenses associated with local governments having to step in to prevent vacant properties from becoming complete wastelands.

The estimated number of vacant houses in the Greater Kansas City area exceeds 15,000.

Each dwelling remodeled through Jackson County Constructing Futures is 1 less vacant house that is a blight on its neighborhood and one more home that is returned to the property tax rolls.
A vacant house in flames.
What They Turn Into
Vacant homes often become havens for squatters, vandals, thieves, vagrant partiers and worse. They also become prime targets for arson. Vacant homes are frequently transformed into drug houses - where drug abusers use their illegal narcotics, or where drug traffickers will either distribute their products or set up labs to manufacture toxic, potentially combustible substances such as meth.

Because there literally is no one home to complain, vacant houses are used to dump debris that attracts rodents, mosquitoes and other pests - all of which can compromise the health of those who live near these properties.

Appraisers have to report to lenders any vacant or boarded-up homes near your house. That drives down the value of your property. But the problem goes beyond just trying to sell your home. It can also impact your ability to simply refinance your mortgage and get a lower interest rate.

Connection to Criminal Activity
According to a study the Georgia Institute of Technology and Chicago-based Woodstock Institute conducted, when a neighborhood sees a 1% increase in foreclosures - which leads directly to more boarded up vacant houses - there is a 2.33% jump in violent crime in that neighborhood. That study was conducted in 2005 before the housing bubble burst.

Arson or other criminal activity associated with a vacant home in your neighborhood can cause your insurance company to raise your rates or even cancel your homeowner's policy.

Vacant Homes in Kansas City
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an article on the growing vacant home problem in Kansas City, Missouri in 2008. The Post-Gazette reported in the 2007 fiscal year, alone, Kansas City was trying to collect $1.4 million for mowing weeds, hauling trash and boarding up or tearing down vacant houses. But in the end it's usually taxpayers left holding the bill because the vacant property's legal owner can't be located.

Just how many vacant homes are in the Kansas City area? The Kansas City star reported January 12, 2011 that the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City estimated that 1 in 10 city residential properties was vacant. In some neighborhoods, however, that number shifts to 1 in 4. The Kansas City Director of Neighborhood and Community Services told The Star there are between 10,000 and 11,000 vacant homes within Kansas City, Missouri - a number that matches the Reserve Bank's estimate of 10%.