The initiative to reduce abandoned housing relates to the MAP Initiative 4, “Creating Attractive and Desirable Places,” specifically Action 3, “Continue and Expand the Blight Removal Program.”
In surveys distributed throughout the neighborhood as well as at monthly meetings, the prevalence of abandoned housing is a concern held by many TPA residents. Even a general overview of the neighborhood would include a high number of vacant properties, and the desire to improve housing conditions as well as demolish blighted houses remains critical to the success of the neighborhood
Accompanying abandoned housing is wasted space, poor public perception, and a lack of safety for nearby residents. Therefore, this initiative relates to other initiatives seeking to improve the overall quality of life in TPA.
Many TPA houses are currently on the City of Muncie’s list of homes to be demolished. Some of these houses will be demolished in the coming months and years, making way for the reuse of space for community gardens, open spaces, and other projects discussed in other initiatives within this action plan.
However, the number of abandoned and blighted houses in the neighborhood exceeds the resources available for distribution by the city. Residents have the opportunity to be a part of transforming the houses that are not set for demolition by participating in boarding projects and public artwork.
Figure 1: The Potential of Each Abandoned House.
Residents and community partners should secure the buildings not set for demolition by boarding the first floor windows and doors. This work will prevent undesirable activity from occurring inside abandoned houses and will encourage greater safety for neighbors. One method for residents to become involved in this process is for the neighborhood association to establish a committee dedicated to the improvement of housing in TPA. This committee can secure funds for purchasing boarding materials and organize volunteers to efficiently board the necessary houses, shown on the map below (Figure 1).
Figure 1 – Vacant Buildings in TPA. Author: James Sandberg
The process of boarding houses produces an opportunity for youth and other community members to be involved in the beautification of the neighborhood. Once windows and doors are boarded, an abandoned house can become a canvas for public art that literally reverses the aesthetic effect of the home.
The committee in charge of this initiative might partner with Habitat for Humanity to determine costs and procedural elements of house boarding. They might also work alongside the Ross Center to identify community members to help with the artistic component of this initiative.
The leaders and other members of the neighborhood association should assemble a willing committee to move forward with this initiative. The identification of suitable houses is provided in the map below (Figure 1). The committee could identify the most suitable group of homes and begin with a trial boarding to determine actual cost, time and materials required for the completion of this project. By the end of the year then, the committee should be able to set a specific timeline for the rest of the homes to be completed.
Figure 1 shows all vacant, blighted houses in TPA, in which the green reflects private ownership and the yellow is city-owned. TPANA can compare this map to the city’s list of houses set to be demolished within the next year. Any houses not on the city’s list that are city-owned are good candidates for boarding and public art.
The neighborhood association’s housing committee can choose one house to do a trial run in terms of boarding to establish the approximate time and materials needed to complete one house effectively. After this, volunteers from various groups coordinated by the committee may serve to board up the houses, creating canvases for public art from community members.
Case study – Artistic Boarding in Prosper, TX
The town of Prosper, Texas, has created a document establishing the standards and best practices for securing and boarding up vacant houses that can then be used for public artwork. The town of Prosper worked alongside affected neighborhood associations and the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity to board up houses and record all their findings in terms of best practices and potential impact.
Community members in Prosper, Texas, viewed abandoned houses not as problems to be destroyed, but also as opportunities for artistic expression and community bonding. Especially as the number of blighted houses is higher than the available funds to demolish them, TPA can board up windows and doors and view the house as a canvas for local artists.
View the link for more details about Prosper’s methodology and recommendations for secure boarding of vacant houses.
Habitat for Humanity
1923 S. Hoyt Ave.
Muncie, IN 47302
Phone: (765) 286-5739
Fax: (765) 289-0592
Contact: Ms. Lindsey Arthur, Chief Executive Officer
Ross Community Center
1110 W 10th St.
Muncie, IN 47302
Phone: (765) 747-4741
Contact: Ms. Jacqueline Hanoman, Executive Director
Office of Community Development
300 N. High St.
Muncie, IN 47305
Contact: Zane Bishop, Residential Program Administrator