In “The Little Red Hen,” we teach children that they are entitled to the fruits of their labor when no one else would help them. In Philadelphia, the city tells people in its poorest areas to fuck off when they try to improve the thousands of vacant lots owned by the city – which are nearly always left to become magnets for trash, needles, and crime. Recently, many proud homeowners and neighbors have rolled up their sleeves and turned some of these once-disgusting parcels into useful and pretty spaces – like pocket parks or community gardens. They’ll often do this for years, and the city can rarely be bothered to transfer the title for these parcels to a neighbor or community group when asked. Instead they remain with the Philadelphia Land Bank, which was supposed to streamline the process of getting derelict properties back onto the tax rolls, but has become another bureaucratic nightmare that stymies grassroots community investment and does little or nothing to stem off blight. Give these communities priority over the spaces they saved while the city itself did nothing!
Kimberly Wingfield is a DIY enthusiast and architecture geek living in West Philly. She's a real estate agent who loves helping people find affordable housing and home improvement solutions.
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Market Urbanism Report is sponsored by Panoramic Interests, a progressive developer in San Francisco. Panoramic, which is owned by Patrick Kennedy, specializes in 160 sqft micro-units (called MicroPads) that are built using modular construction materials. Panoramic has long touted these units as a cost-effective way to house San Francisco’s growing homeless population. But Panoramic also builds larger units of between 440-690 sqft. To learn more about Panoramic’s micro-unit model, read MUR’s coverage on the firm in its America’s Progressive Developers series. Or visit Panoramic’s website.