Commentary: Abandoned home are sad blight on neighborhoods

This editorial appeared in The Miami Herald.

They're happening in the best of neighborhoods these days as well as middle-class and blue-collar communities – home foreclosures. Even tiny, tony Golden Beach currently has 11 houses in receivership. So it is good news that many local governments are getting proactive on preventing these homes from becoming a blight in neighborhoods, as was reported in Sunday's Miami Herald.

How are they doing it? By streamlining a process that has frustrated neighborhood activists for decades. Until recently it could take months to get the legal go-ahead to deal with blighted vacant homes and other nuisance structures. Appearances before nuisance-abatement boards or hearing officers took time, as did documenting the problem. Meanwhile, the property would deteriorate, be vandalized, inhabited by vagrants or become a crack house. The situation was unfair to everyone else in the neighborhood.

Owning a home is a bedrock of American society. It is a stabilizing influence on families as well as a nurturer of them. It is in the interest of local governments to protect residents' homes. After all, most cities base their revenue on property taxes, and this asset must be protected from the urban ills that would diminish or destroy it.

Several communities have wised up and gotten rid of the antiquated nuisance-abatement system, and more are on the verge of doing the same.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.