Every city in America has its communities that are impacted by blight. Given today’s sensationalized news, it’s easy to think that our less fortunate neighborhoods are inhabited by the same bunch of criminals who destroyed the community in the first place. This depiction of struggling neighborhoods couldn’t be further from the truth. Blighted communities nearly always had their glory days as vibrant communities where people laughed, loved, lived, and worked to build a better place for their children. The process of community decline nearly always begins for a reason that residents can’t control: loss of opportunity. This, in turn, leads to vacant properties, which draw in crime and decrease everyone’s property value. These factors lead more people to leave, which only exacerbates the situation.
Popular media also seems to think that these neighborhoods with broken homes, schools, and streets are mainly populated by young hoodlums who are only out to further break the community.
That is not the true story of community blight. The truth is, the vast majority of people living in our nation’s blighted communities are senior citizens. They were the people who grew up during these neighborhoods’ glory days and remained as the neighborhood deteriorated. Many of them would move if they could, but the fact that they are seniors and generally living on a fixed income makes that a challenge. Additionally, these senior citizens have seen the value of their homes plummet as their neighborhoods fall apart. For example, a Pittsburg senior got a $9,000 bid to repair her roof, only to find that homes in the area were selling for $7,000 (source).
Many of the residents in our most blighted communities helped build this country. They are part of the hard working greatest generation and it should be viewed as a national shame that we’ve allowed their neighborhoods to fall apart in this way.
The good news is there are many organizations working to combat blight in these communities. The largest contributor to blight is vacant homes. As homes go vacant, they fall apart, attract copper thieves, bring in squatters, and cause more people to move out. Thus, providing security in vacant properties helps stop the bleeding so that community nonprofits can step in and restore these once vibrant communities. Once security is restored, the door is also opened for new investment. Developers are much more likely to invest in communities that are viewed as secure, so providing security for vacant properties is a critical first step.
That is why I’ve partnered with a company that is dedicated to securing vacant homes in blighted communities around the country. COPR Security has devoted itself to building a technology that not only serves the needs of residential real estate investors, it serves the members of our society who most deserve it. The senior citizens who grew up, worked, and now have retired in the neighborhoods they helped build. COPR represents the heart of social entrepreneurship: building a sustainable business that creates social change.