Spokane Journal of Business

City explores housing quality action

Next public meeting will be held June 30

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City of Spokane officials are reaching out to community organizations and residents this month to gather input about housing quality in the city.

Three public meetings have been held in June to review recommendations offered by Mayor David Condon’s Housing Quality Task Force and the city’s Infill Development Task Force that were submitted to Condon and the City Council late last year.

At Condon’s direction last year, the task forces examined abandoned homes, substandard properties, vacant residential lots, chronic nuisance properties, homes in foreclosure, and housing affordability, says Alicia Ayars, community programs coordinator with the city of Spokane.

The city’s Integrated Housing Quality and Infill Development department will host another public meeting on June 30 at the downtown public library, 906 W. Main, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public.

Last year, the two task forces worked with Florida-based Community of Champions, a company that helps municipalities track foreclosures.

What city officials learned here is that 1,374 properties were in some stage of the foreclosure process as of May 2016, Ayars says.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, foreclosures can depress the sales price of homes located within 1,000 feet of the foreclosed-upon property by up to 9 percent.

“There are 31,000 homes that reside within 1,000 feet of a home foreclosure in Spokane,” the housing quality task force report says.

To quantify the loss in home sales based on Spokane’s median home value of $160,000, the loss in revenue value ranges from $4.3 million to $448 million, according to the report.

The report goes on to say that chronic nuisance properties add even more of financial burden to citizens while compromising the quality of life on nearby residents.

The task force says there were 23,000 incident calls to law enforcement related to nuisance activity—such as drug activity, theft, and violence—at 3,800 properties between 2014 and May 2016.

“On average, a Spokane police officer will spend 36 minutes responding to a criminal nuisance call. Taking the senior officer, plus overhead rate of $68.53 and multiplying it by an estimated 13,860 hours spent on these calls, the city of Spokane has spent an estimated $1 million in responding to problem properties since 2014,” the report says.

Ayars says the city has been presenting the results of the task force at the community meetings while sharing potential actions to address these housing challenges.

The city is examining offering financial incentives to homebuyers and homebuilders for the purchase of abandoned homes that have been restored, she says.

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