Abandoned housing is a significant problem in many Massachusetts communities. A single abandoned property can pull down the housing values and, more important have a significant impact on public safety for an entire neighborhood. Long before the current foreclosure crisis, the AGO began working to assist communities to use several code enforcement mechanisms to gain control over abandoned properties, make necessary repairs and bring the property back to full use.
The number of abandoned properties has increased as a result of the current financial and credit markets. However, the problem of abandoned properties is nothing new, and not the sole result of the increase in foreclosures. In the 1990's, in response to concerns over crime and safety issues, the AGO developed protocols using the State Sanitary Code and other applicable code enforcement tools to have a receiver appointed to rehabilitate dangerous, abandoned homes and address the blight created by an abandoned home in otherwise viable neighborhoods.
As the Federal Government works to grasp the extent of damage caused by the flood of foreclosures throughout the United States, local Municipalities are left to deal with the blight caused by the properties themselves. In many cases, where it is more cost-effective for owners to walk away from properties than maintain them, the properties sit vacant, subject to vandalism and used for illegal purposes. They present problems throughout the community. They are an eye sore for neighbors and local residents, and present a significant public safety risk to the community. Absentee owners put a strain on municipal revenue, leaving taxes unpaid and affecting the values of occupied properties. In 2009, the AGO expanded the resources dedicated to the AHI to support municipalities currently affected by the large number of foreclosures in the Commonwealth.