Learn More: Vacant Properties


Variable Definition:
Vacant Commercial Properties: The percent of all commercial properties that are vacant, meaning they have not collected their mail for more than 90 days
Vacant Residential Properties: The percent of all residential properties that are vacant, meaning they have not collected their mail for more than 90 days
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Aggregated  United States Postal Service (USPS) Administrative Data on Vacant Properties
Years Available:
2008 - 2019
Geographic Unit
Census Tract

Why is this Variable Important to Measure?

Under an agreement between United States Postal Service (USPS) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), USPS shares quarterly data on addresses identified as “vacant.” The addresses reflects residential and commercial that USPS has recorded in their database. Vacant addresses have been identified as being vacant (not collecting their mail) for 90 days or longer. Further, insurance companies often require homeowners to purchase a separate vacant or unoccupied homeowners insurance policy as vacant homes are viewed as high-risk properties due to theft and vandalism. 
Hyper-vacancy is described as neighborhoods in which 20 percent or more of the buildings and lots are vacant. Vacant properties are often concentrated in areas that are experiencing losses in jobs, investment and economic opportunities. Further, vacant or abandoned properties are costly to cities as a result of decreased tax revenue and increased crime and maintenance costs. Vacant properties also contribute to general blight which has a negative effect on property values. A Philadelphia study found that vacant properties reduce household wealth due to blight by an aggregate $3.6 billion. 
This data allows HUD to track neighborhood change and provide an open data portal to researchers and practitioners. The vacant indicator is useful for researchers and practitioners exploring population growth, development patterns, rent evictions or gentrification trends. 

"Blight and vacant land are a national crisis for smaller cities". Patrick Sisson. Curbed. 2019. Link.
"HUD aggregate USPS administrative data on address vacancies". United States Department of Housing and Urban DevelopmentLink
"The Empty House Next Door". Alan Mallach. Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. 2018. Link.
"Vacant land management in Philadelphia: the cost of the current system and need for reform". Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority and Philadelphia Association of Communty Development Corporations. 2010. Link.
"Vacant and unoccupied homeowners insurance". Pat Howard. Policy Genius. 2018. Link.
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