Overgrown Lawn originally uploaded by merfam
With the number of vacant homes on the rise in the South Metro and in an absolute stroke of genius, the Burnsville City Council has decided that it will consider whether or not homeowners in foreclosure should have to properly maintain their homes. City Council member Dan Gustafson was quoted as saying that he noticed that almost every single neighborhood in Burnsville has homes that have been foreclosed on. Wow, that’s impressive work Dan, you must have had to look far and wide to see those problems, eh?
Thankfully there’s a huge chunk of federal money coming down the pike to help counties and local communities cope with this problem. According to this article over at the Star Tribune, Minnesota is receiving $58 million in federal funding to help restore foreclosed and vacant homes for resale. Buyers of these homes would be required to attend eight hours of training and the money might also help those who make less than $67,000 pay closing costs, etc.
Wow, that sounds like a sweet deal, eh? Unfortunately Dakota County is only getting a very small portion of that funding. Not surprising right? Hennepin and Ramsey counties probably need that money more than we do. Well, unfortunately counties like Ankoa, which is apparently very similar to Dakota County, are receiving more of the federal monies due to the State’s formula for how to divide the money. As usual, Dakota County is fighting the good fight and trying to get some answers as to why Anoka is going to end up with more money than we are yet they have a smaller percentage of homes in foreclosure.
Another question raised by this discussion is whether or not we take pity on people who have lost their home because of the declining markets. One commenter on the Star Tribune article mentions that she has lost $1000/month in wages due to airline industry cutbacks and can no longer afford to pay her mortgage. While I sympathize with her, should that preclude her from maintaining her property while she attempts to sell it? It certainly shouldn’t stop the banks who own many of these properties from doing minimal maintenance. Perhaps another commenter who stated, “How about …….the neighbors go mow the fricking (sic) lawn like I do with my neighbors house. Take some pride in your neighborhood!” Who’s right here? Should the city step in and force banks and homeowners to maintain their vacant properties or should the neighbors chip in and help to beautify their neighborhoods to avoid feeling “trapped” in a neighborhood littered with blighted homes as Kevin Dockry, manager of housing development and finance for Hennepin County was quoted as saying?
Personally, I believe that it’s a combination of all of the above. Neighbors should chip in where required, cities should enforce regulations (Burnsville doesn’t have an ordinance about keeping your property up, seriously?), and people should take some fucking responsibility and pride for their property regardless of their financial state.
What do you think? Is Dakota County just crying crocodile tears again or is this truly an example of the South Metro getting shafted again? Do you think that it should be a combination of all factors, do you think it should be left solely on the shoulders of the property owners, or do you think that people should just ignore the problems until the go away entirely? Perhaps you have a completely different solution that you’d like to share? If so, comment on!