Fueled by the foreclosure crisis, the number of vacant buildings in Kansas City has spread like the real estate version of a pandemic flu.
In just one year, city officials say, the number has exploded by 2,000 to more than 7,500 empty or abandoned structures. That figure doesn't include thousands of empty lots.
"It's staggering what is happening," said Cindy Circo, who represents some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods in Kansas City’s East Side.
The problem touches every area, from as far north as Kansas City International Airport to portions of Kansas City that are south of Grandview. But it most dramatically affects the urban core, where some streets may have only one occupied home left.
This summer, Forbes magazine helped focus city leaders on the problem, naming Kansas City the nation's most "abandoned city" because of high rental and homeowner vacancy rates.
City officials and others are critical of the study, saying Kansas City certainly is not the nation's most abandoned city. It pales in comparison to Detroit, Baltimore or troubled Rust Belt centers such as Cleveland, or even smaller towns such as Youngstown, Ohio.
But the study woke up Kansas City leaders.
"No one really realized Kansas City has that significant of a problem," said Julie Porter, executive director of the Greater Kansas City LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corp.), a community development organization. "And the foreclosure crisis has made it much worse. Lots and lots of vacancies."
To read the complete article, visit www.kansascity.com.