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Today's Axios Cities is 1,533 words, <6-minute read.
Abandoned houses in Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Patrick Gorski/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The outcry over affordable housing shortages in America's fastest-growing cities masks an equally devastating problem: persistently high rates of vacant and blighted housing in cities of all sizes.
Why it matters: Vacant housing spiked across the country after the foreclosure crisis of the late 2000s. While things have improved, vacancy rates are still far higher than they were before 2005, according to a 2018 report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.
Driving the news: Nearly 2 dozen city leaders, as part of the National League of Cities Housing Task Force, released a report this week concluding that blighted properties are one of the biggest challenges for housing in American cities — but one not often addressed by typical efforts to boost economic growth.
What's happening: Hard-hit legacy cities are dealing with some degree of "hypervacancy."
Local governments have found creative strategies for incentivizing developers to come in or to turn lots into community parks or gardens.
Gary, Indiana, has the highest vacancy rate of single-family housing in the country.
In Macon, Georgia, the Mill Hill neighborhood flatlined when the mill closed and more than half of the homes sat empty.
Baltimore stimulated its own market by providing a steady pipeline of neglected properties to developers through regular auctions.
The bottom line: In thriving cities, abandoned structures are quickly snapped up by investors looking to turn old warehouses into hip lofts.
Go deeper: Read the full story here.
The triumph of rich cities may hog the demographic headlines, but midsize cities' turnaround struggles under the shadow of automation will shape the urban future in the U.S., according to the author of a new McKinsey Global Institute report.
Why it matters: While 2 dozen high-performing cities are poised to pull further ahead of the rest of America, the cities to watch are those in between the mega-cities and the low-growth rural areas — the places McKinsey calls "niche cities" and the "mixed middle," according to report author Susan Lund.
Niche cities have found success by leveraging unique features or locations.
The "mixed middle" is home to about a quarter of the U.S. population, and these cities' economic fates could go either way depending on how proactive their strategies are.
What to watch: While some of these middle cities have upward momentum, others are at risk of teetering into decline. The most successful strategies will build on existing strengths.
"This is not inexorable. Decisions made by business leaders, local governments, universities and community colleges can create a strategy for local economies and turn this around."— Susan Lund, McKinsey Global Institute
Go deeper: Read the full story here.
Most people say they're comfortable with the growing hyper-connectedness of their homes and cities, according to an Axios-SurveyMonkey poll.
Yes, but: Even greater majorities want to have control over how much of their data is collected when they're out in public.
What's happening: A few cities — New York, Seattle and Oakland — are crafting their own privacy policies.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Amazon HQ2 in Arlington, Virginia, is just getting started — with a smattering of employees and a new campus construction — but the surrounding housing market is already experiencing a boom in anticipation of the new demand, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
Between the lines: As housing prices climb and inventory drops, experts predict lower-income residents will be priced out of their neighborhoods, just as they were in Seattle. In Virginia, one of the most vulnerable pockets is the Latinx community in Arlandria — just 2 miles from HQ2.
Why it matters: There are plans to add affordable housing units in northern Virginia, but those homes will be priced for households earning around 60% of the median income. That would leave out almost all Latinx families in Arlandria, researchers wrote.
In a new report by Tenants and Workers United and George Washington University, provided first to Axios, researchers surveyed a sample of 285 Arlandria families living among the city's 3,000 moderately priced apartments.
What's next: Amazon has said it is working with local and state officials to address its housing impact. The company has donated $3 million to build affordable housing in the area around HQ2.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The hidden winners in neighborhood gentrification (Kriston Capps — CityLab)
I'm an engineer, and I'm not buying into "smart cities" (Shoshanna Saxe — NY Times)
Uber, Lyft ridership declines in NYC after fares rise (Shelly Hagan, Marie Patino — Bloomberg)
Space startup aims to beam internet service straight to rural residents' cellphones (Axios)
Millennials are relandscaping the housing market (Marisa Fernandez — Axios)
In 30 years, Washington, D.C.'s climate will be more like Nashville's is today, but with greater temperature swings. New York's will be more like Virginia Beach. Seattle's climate will resemble San Francisco, and London will feel more like Barcelona.
Driving the news: In a study of 520 major cities published in PLOS One, researchers found 77% of global cities will go through drastic climate change by 2050, "even under an optimistic climate scenario."
Go deeper: What your city's climate will be in 2080
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