Continue to transform vacant lots into green community assets.
No Philadelphian should have to live near blight. This is particularly true today, when Philadelphia has a proven, internationally recognized program to remove blight from abandoned properties. With funding from the city, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Philadelphia Green Program has transformed 3,000 abandoned lots into clean and green spaces over the past five years.38 This interim land-management program has also succeeded in moving crime, fires, unsanitary conditions, and drugs from those neighborhood properties. The greening program, which has been supported by the city with a $3 million annual budget line, should be extended for the next four years because it has the power to dramatically improve neighborhoods.
Greening vacant lots is a high-impact and relatively low-cost method of providing residents with a blight-free environment. In 2000, Philadelphia had more vacant lots than any major city in the country.39 With nearly 60,000 vacant properties in the city, every Philadelphia resident had a direct relationship to blight and abandonment. The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and its Philadelphia Green program began an experiment to see what the effects would be if both private and public lots were cleaned and greened -- the junk removed and grass and trees planted.
The results? More attractive communities where crime was lowered, blight was removed, and neighborhoods were uplifted.
The city should continue and expand this essential program to clean and green vacant lots and to maintain greened lots regularly so they do not again become havens for illegal dumping and crime.