Andy Kim is a former GOVERNING staff writer.
With existing-home sales at its lowest level in over 10 years, the housing market continues to feel the lack of financial confidence resulting in an increase of unkempt, vacant houses. To keep Cleveland’s empty homes from being vandalized or turned into makeshift dwellings for drifters, Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka is using a $20,000 grant to have abandoned homes boarded up with pseudo doors and windows made of plywood. The [Cleveland] Plain Dealer reports that these plywood boards are painted to resemble doors and windows, restricting entry and showing people passing by that someone is indeed looking after the home. Most of the 22 properties in this program subject to code violations requiring them to be clean, secure and graffiti-free, so the upgraded look will keep the houses from becoming community eyesores until they are demolished or renovated. The Chicago-based nonprofit that boards abandoned buildings with decorated plywood has completed similar projects in other cities across the country, including an abandoned church Minneapolis.