I’ve been following vacant property registration ordinances since the start of this blog. Earlier this month I noted a recent working paper about these ordinances spearheaded by Dan Immergluck from Georgia Tech University, who has a long-term project tracking them. In that paper, he says, “As of May 2012, there were more than 550 local VPROs in the U.S., up from fewer than 20 in 2000 and less than 100 at the end of 2007.” (There is a podcast of him discussing the project that you can download here. And I’d like to add that Immergluck wrote an excellent book, Foreclosed: High-Risk Lending, Deregulation, and the Undermining of America’s Mortgage Market, which anyone interesting in the mortgage crisis should read. It currently has 5 stars at Amazon.com.)
This month, the number of ordinances appears to be steadily rising, as a Google News search quickly turned up eight articles from this month alone about different ordinances under consideration, in six separate states! (And not all local governments post their activities in a readily searchable form.) The municipalities considering proposed registration ordinances include Springfield, Ohio; Cambridge, Ohio; Dover, Delaware; Riverton, Pennsylvania; Richmond, California; Kern County, California; Auburn, New York; and St. Petersburg, Florida.
I hope that these ordinances work out for these municipalities, by which I mean I hope that they can maintain their vacant property stock and generate revenue. Jersey City, for example, recently revealed that it plans to add $250,000 with its new vacant property registration program. [Editor update: Original link broken, read about the program here.] My only advice is that, as I’ve said before, vigorous enforcement of these laws by local officials is the sole way to bring in that kind of money.