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CityLab Daily: Can Land Banks Get Us Out of This Mess?

Also today: The U.S. needs more power lines, and how poor neighborhoods are falling deeper into poverty.


A vacant home in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. Land banks have been a common technique for helping cities address abandoned properties.

A vacant home in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. Land banks have been a common technique for helping cities address abandoned properties.

Photograph: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

Two birds, one stone: A blight-fighting tool brought to bear during the last recession might be the key to protecting towns and cities from the havoc being wrought by this one. That tool is land banking, a process for local governments to manage properties that are vacant, abandoned or foreclosed. 

A new bill before Congress, the National Land Bank Network Act, would expand and fortify the nation’s land banks to strengthen the infrastructure for dealing with the pandemic’s fallout — including a potential foreclosure crisis — before it happens. Kriston Capps writes that it could help with two big issues playing out right now: Cities and counties could absorb distressed properties to avoid the permanent scars of the downturn, and they could later rebuild communities more fairly, preventing Covid-19 from worsening the social inequalities underlying nationwide protests for racial justice. Today on CityLab: Can Land Banks Get Us Out of This Mess?