Vacancies in suburban Cook County jumped 79% in three years to 21,479 homes mid-year, up substantially from 2010 levels. However, the story in Cook County runs a bit deeper, with the city battling significant abandonment and neglect issues. Per Crain's Chicago Business:
"Basically what we're seeing are the effects of something much larger than the Great Chicago Fire," says architect and urban planner Marshall Brown, an assistant professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. “It's just happened over 40 years or something. It's like we are standing there on the day after (the fire) and everyone's waking up and saying, 'OK, how do we rebuild in this new world in a way that's smarter, knowing what we know now?"
Any solution must start with an understanding of basic economics, Mr. Brown and others say. In many depressed neighborhoods, the supply of homes vastly exceeds demand, which has fallen due to a complex mix of factors, including crime, failing schools and a lack of good jobs. If demand comes back, great, but don't rely on it. Spending tens of thousands rehabbing a vacant home doesn't make sense if no one wants to live in it.