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Dawn of the Dead City: An Exploratory Analysis of Vacant Addresses in Buffalo, NY 2008 to 2010

Date: Feb 20, 2013
Author(s): Li Yin, Kelly Patterson, Robert Silverman
Topic(s): Economic Development: Economic Conditions, Housing / Neighborhoods: General, Poverty / Income Inequality: General
Type: Publication

ABSTRACT: This article examines residential vacancy patterns in Buffalo, NY, using data from a unique data set. It includes variables from HUD Aggregate USPS Administrative Data on Address Vacancies, the American Community Survey (ACS) 5-year estimates for 2005–2009, housing choice voucher (HCV) records of local public housing agencies, and municipal in rem property records. Multiple regression is used to identify significant relationships between vacancy patterns, socioeconomic characteristics, and institutional factors. The findings from this analysis suggest that the percent of vacant residential properties increases in census tracts with elevated poverty rates, higher percentages of renters receiving rental assistance, and long-term vacancies. They also suggest that the percent of abandoned residential properties increases in census tracts with highly concentrated black populations, elevated poverty rates, long-term vacancies, and higher percentages of business addresses. We conclude that these relationships are unique to older core cities experiencing systemic population and job losses. These cities struggle with a distinct type of long-term vacant and abandoned structures, which we label zombie properties. They can be contrasted with vacant and abandoned properties in transitional or regenerating areas. We offer recommendations for further analysis of zombie properties in these urban settings.