There are over 40,000 vacant properties in Philadelphia. These properties cost the city over $20 million in maintenance costs each year, and owe a total of $70 million in uncollected taxes. They drive away investment, attract crime, and drag down property values city-wide by an estimated $3.6 billion, further undercutting the tax base of the public school system, but there hasn’t been a solution profitable enough—or large enough in scale—to reverse the abandoned housing blight.
Philadelphia recently became the largest city in the country to pass land bank legislation, which is aimed at quickly developing its nearly 10,000 city-owned properties. Previously, the Department of License & Inspections paid demolition contractors to remove about 1,000 blighted structures a year at an average cost of $13,000 per house, or $9.5 million to demolition contractors each year.
By employing grant-funded job trainees for structure removal, and volunteers for soft-stripping, a nonprofit deconstruction organization could earn a sustainable income while addressing the city‘s abandoned housing blight and putting wages back into the communities from which they salvage materials.
The Philadelphia Community Corp’s mission is to revitalize blighted neighborhoods by deconstructing abandoned housing and salvaging materials for reuse.