There's a lot to digest in this article:
1) Absentee landlords are terrible. I can't say I know what the solution is, but perhaps simply lowering the price of the houses until the (low income) workers could afford to buy and therefore take stake in the community is preferable?
2) Unfortunately the sprawling layout of Hemet in particular is unconducive for creating the kinds of businesses that could at least mark the beginning of a more dense mixed use area. In this case there will have to be pain to raze some of the houses at the very least to help things go in that direction.
3) Broken window effect seems to be in full force with the absentee landlords only throwing fuel to the fire. Ideally the city would help some of these residents sue these landlords to resolve some of these issues, which would help slow the downward spiral of non-maintenance by the residents.
Shouldn't cities grow and fade though? If whatever attracted people is lost, it should shrink. The problem is it's really hard to shrink concrete. In Louisiana after Katrina, the main solution was bulldozers. Think of them as the macrophages of the urban immune system.
I went looking for a house about four years ago. That was in 2013, a full 5 years post recession. I was surprised to see how many foreclosures were still on the market. I asked my realtor to show me, despite his misgivings about possibly buying a foreclosed property.
It was pretty much exactly how the article described it. I looked at about five or six lower priced large houses (5-6 bedrooms, 4-5 bathrooms, in the 4-5k ft range) and all were the same. They were all totally run down. Gutters falling off, carpets destroyed, holes in walls, kitchens in total disrepair. All kinds of stuff were left behind like there was a fire and the owners just fled.
My realtor also pointed out a few of the houses where the workmanship of the house was way below where it should be. The houses were built quickly for the boom. Corners were cut and it was clear even after five years, the houses would need a ton of work.
One other thing the article didn't touch on was the huge availability of retail and commercial space. There's a bunch of suburbs around where I live where businesses went under during the recession and nothing has filled those buildings yet. Retail is the same thing. There are businesses that either moved out or closed shops and those spaces remain empty, almost ten years after the recession.
It seems like there's a market opportunity to create a property management company that operates on a Wal-Mart or McDonalds scale. Franchises all over the country, consistent architectural design for apartments, consistent management and maintenance. I'm surprised something like this doesn't exist already.
People who want to live in the cities are moving to the cities, and so house prices in those suburbs are dropping and people who can't afford houses in the city are moving to places where they can afford houses. Both of those seem like good things. Of course if you look only at the suburb then it looks like a decline.
A country that has built enough housing for its population should have empty houses, should have houses that are not worth keeping up slowly falling into disrepair, available on the cheap to anyone who decides they do want them. Build more houses where people want to live - the cities. Let them rot where people don't.
"This dynamic changes the housing markets of these cities, too, with big cities getting more expensive as more high-wage workers migrate there, and low-wage workers leaving cities to seek more affordable housing in the far-away suburbs they can afford. Now that the dust of the recession has cleared, it is evident that the geography of poverty has changed in America."
There was just an article posted here a couple of weeks ago about a woman who was pushed out of LA and moved to Hemet while continuing to commute to LA for work. IIRC the woman was in her 50s and still renting in Hemet despite the lower housing costs. There are no jobs in cities like Hemet but you'd expect that a significant enough number of LA expats moving there would revitalize the local economy some what, just from the higher earnings of super commuters.
Decentralization of bigger cities is one of the key things where govern should take action in the foreseeable future. I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which receives 2 million workers every day. Govern should pass laws to incentivize companies to move out of the city, banks to give credits on underdeveloped areas, and heavily invest of public transportation to those areas. We are reaching a level bigger cities are not capable to scale any longer.
Haven't recovered... What if it is should have not been?
Many things were built and new subdivisions were creates with the notion the economy was ready for it.
It clearly was all built on lies and bad practice.
That is why I question not that it is recovering but maybe it should have not been.
I think the real solution is to leave these areas that clearly can't be supported by the local economy.
And sorry to say. Yeah it's going to suck for a lot of people. But that is life. Not everything is going to be perfect. Holding on to a dying dream is only going to make it worse.
(I am not cold hearted. I have just experience life enough to not let a sob story make me make irrational decisions).
Good. Suburbs are a delusional fantasy that every nuclear family is a financially independent island who's lives can be air-gap'd off from the rest of the world. They were built for boomers and should die with boomers.
There is this thing I was thinking about:
Single homes ought to be owned, and multi-tenant apartment buildings ought to be rented.
Why? One case you are observing in the article. Renters of home don't care about keeping up their house. Spending any kind of money on it is just not their priority. The only one who can keep up the house is owner, but as you can see in this case they'll just choose to pocket the rent.
But there's a different angle. Imagine an apartment building where every apartment is owned. Some of them by elderly, some of them by poor. Now the common areas and house territory would deteriorate, because apartment owners don't have incentive to spend on either one. You could try to roll these charges into their utilities bill, but they will fight tooth and nail. Poor will say "we don't have money for this", elderly will say "we don't care and also don't have money", the rest will say "we're not paying for the aforementioned if they're not".
This is becoming a problem in countries where owned apartments are a thing. The city has to pay from its pocket for the upkeep of territories around such apartment blocks.
Naturally when apartments are rented out, landlord is interested in its state because they have to maintain steady number of new tenants to replace people moving out. Bad upkeep = no more tenants = lost money.