Editor: David Reiss
Brooklyn Law School

August 26, 2013

Don’t Abandon Hope

By David Reiss

According to Dante, Hell’s entrance has a sign that reads, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”  As communities face the foreclosure crisis and see their population shrink, they need to come up with a plan to deal with this new reality. I have previously wrote about Housing Abandonment and NYC’s Response and am pretty confident that abandoning hope, and just letting the cards fall where they may is the worst path for a community to take.

I was quoted in a story in Joliet, Illinois’ Herald-Sun, Joliet Grapples with Empty Building Syndrome, that reads in part:

David Reiss, a law professor who teaches community development, property and real estate courses at Brooklyn Law School in New York, agrees. He has written about and studied empty residential spaces, but he’s also watched firsthand how New York state got aggressive about empty residential buildings in the 1980s by acquiring them and selling them to private or nonprofit developers.

“It just paid off in spades,” he said.

Reiss said demolishing empty buildings that can’t be used is better than having “derelict, hulking structures in the middle of the community,” he said. “Better to have open space than crumbling structures. You don’t want these ghosts or boogeymen to haunt a community.”

It doesn’t make sense to throw money into something that won’t pay off, he said.

“So I certainly think a community led by its mayor and city council really wants to have an intelligent plan,” he said. “It’s important to have momentum.”

The worst thing to do is to ignore the problem or not see it, he warned.

“You really need the civil leaders to believe in the community and plan for its rebirth,” he said. “If you don’t have that, you’re kind of on a life raft at sea.”

| Permalink