West Michigan cities find ways to help restore homeownership
July 11, 2011
Source: Cami Reister
Department: Grand Rapids Press
WYOMING - When a "For Rent" sign went up across the street from the Bluebird Avenue SW home they've lived in for 40 years, Tim and Merva Keena were curious.
When the neglected and vacant two-bedroom home went into foreclosure, they were concerned.
"I thought it ain't looking too good in the neighborhood," Merva Keena said. "The brown siding was old and (the house) was worn. Not too good for our property values."
The Keenas' fears are not unique or unwarranted. Many vacant homes suffer from neglect, with overgrown lawns, unplowed sidewalks, plywood where windows used to be or other signs of disrepair.
And their number has been growing. Census data documents the effect of the deep recession combined with soaring foreclosures and plunging property values on a vacancy rate that grew across the state by more than 37 percent over the last 10 years.
But as the problem became apparent, people started marshaling the tools needed to tackle it.