Communities around the country grapple with what to do with their vacant and abandoned buildings, which, over time, can become eyesores. Not only are dilapidated buildings ugly, they can hurt the value of surrounding property and become hangouts for drug dealers, prostitutes and the homeless. Elected leaders know they are also major barriers to revitalizing urban areas such as downtown shopping districts and low-income neighborhoods.
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It can be expensive making your home or business conform to local building codes. Ensuring a building does not get blown down in a storm or toppled in an earthquake can require costly materials. Adding confusion to the cost, states and many municipalities have unique requirements for builders and contractors.
So the city you cover is considering raising property taxes and your editor wants a story today. If you’re like many journalists, you didn’t get a lot of training in college on municipal budgets. Where do you begin? We’re here to give you some pointers.
Writing about property taxes, a main revenue source for local government, can be complicated. But we can get started by asking these three questions:
A new study offers insights on how states can assist mobile home residents facing eviction, but notes that even helpful policies can have unintended consequences.
Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005 and was twice as costly as any previous hurricane — in addition to more than 1,000 deaths, it caused over $80 billion in damages in the United States. Three years later Hurricane Ike inflicted nearly $30 billion in damages in the U.S. The frequency and size of such storms has raised questions about a possible connection between climate change and economic losses from weather disasters.
Much research has been done on the recent boom and bust of the housing market in the United States, and housing’s impact on the labor market has been a topic of increasing interest among academics and policy makers.