Towns struggle to address abandoned homes, blight

Urban Decay

Two Harbors, like many towns across Minnesota, can’t keep up with increasing urban blight. It’s a tough cycle for local governments: foreclosures are up, the number of abandoned homes is increasing and fewer people are around to pay property taxes that support the enforcements of nuisance ordinances.

Meghan Koss is tired of dealing with a raccoon problem that stems from the abandoned house next to her home. The Lake County News Chronicle reports that the vacant home has been in a state of disrepair for four years. Two Harbors police are reportedly trying to contact the Duluth owner, but that only works in roughly half of the cases.

Two Harbors Mayor Randy Bolen said he will look to neighboring Duluth for advice.

The City of Duluth used grant money to create a program that has fire fighters and a city attorney working together to identify problem properties and try to resolve ordinance violations. Last year, according to the Chronicle, the new program identified 400 problem properties in Duluth.

The City of Keewatin recently enacted a three-strikes blight ordinance.

There really doesn’t seem to be a quick and easy way to address the problem of blight. Without additional support to cities, residents can pursue a civic case against violators that could result in enforcement or a lien against the property.

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