Residential Abandonment: The Tenement Landlord Revisited

Residential Abandonment: The Tenement Landlord Revisited

Residential Abandonment: The Tenement Landlord Revisited

Residential Abandonment: The Tenement Landlord Revisited

Excerpt

Residential abandonment is the end product of all the urban ills of our modern society. While it has become an urban commonplace, it is a phenomenon about which little is known or understood. The poverty of available research on the subject is due, in part, to the fact that the very definition of abandonment is far from precise. It has been defined as a condition in which buildings are vacant of tenants; commonly this is coupled with the virtual disappearance of the owner either de jure or de facto. But this definition fails to recognize that abandonment appears to be a process, a reflection of a much deeper-seated and extensive phenomenon -- the disinvestment of private capital in core cities.

An abandoned structure frequently represents a positive token of housing betterment. Through the filtering-down process, the development of new and better housing has precipitated the successive shifting of families into increasingly better accommodations; the vacant buildings they have left behind are no longer competitive within the market. But the obvious anomaly is that in many instances, despite substantial housing shortages, abandonment has swept away both good housing and substantial shells which are much needed. The current abandonment process, then, cannot be explained simply in terms of the "normal market" forces.

The reality of abandonment is challenging the theoretician's capacity to explain the phenomenon or predict its growth. Analysts of the reasons for the decline of blighted areas and of their prospects for renewal have brought their entire theoretical arsenal to bear on the subject but the dynamics have evaded the state of the art. Intra-

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