Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grad School: What Do I Do There?

Many may have wondered what I actually do at grad school (many have not wondered this).  So I thought I would present a few things that I've worked on. Generally, I've found that you can do whatever you want at grad school, and still I've chosen fairly boring topics. Let me convince you of their merits! 

Last semester I was looking for a tactic that would help declining cities deal with mass amounts of vacant properties.  I found that Genesee County, Michigan (where Flint, Michigan lies) has a lot of vacant properties, as you can imagine.  To deal with this they formed a Land Bank. What does that mean? 

Land banking is a way for cities and towns to organize all their vacant (foreclosed, abandoned, all of it) into one place and to have ownership of it.  By gathering all these vacant houses, commercial spaces, and vacant lots into one organization, it would be easier for people to buy these things and the county would have less to deal with.  

Also! When someone else buys them, the new owner will pay property taxes (hopefully) on them.  Property taxes are the main way that cities get money, so this means the more property tax revenue they can generate, the more garbage they can pick up, the more firemen/women they can hire, the longer they can have the library open.  

As you can see from the graph, the population of Genesee County could not be falling any faster. Because people are leaving so quickly, they have way more housing that people that need it, created a huge problem with vacant properties. I won't even bring up the housing crisis because clearly thats a whole other issue.

The Genesee County Land Bank was created in 2002, and you can see from the graph below that even though people are leaving as fast as they possibly can, the county has managed to increase its revenue from property tax because of the land bank.

Ok, so land banking has not made Flint, Michigan into a thriving metropolis, but it has managed to mitigate serious negative effects that go along with incredible population loss!

So! If you are just itching to buy a $100 vacant lot or $10,000 house, check out their site! 

Also, if you were really enticed by the above graphs, feel free to read my whole paper about it!  PDF or word doc.
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