July 4, 2010; Source: Daily Freeman | This story from the Daily Freeman in Kingston, N.Y., is another sad example of how the vicious economic cycle is playing out in communities across the country. As the newspaper reports, one of the city’s lawmakers is concerned about problems being caused from the growing number of abandoned properties in surrounding neighborhoods, some of them left behind because of bank foreclosures. So to tidy up the city, Alderman Hayes Clement has proposed that nonprofit groups be hired to fix up the abandoned properties and then collect for their work from either the financial institution that currently owns them or add the cost of the clean up to the tax bill.

The idea has the support of Fire Chief Richard Salzmann, who oversees the city’s Building Safety Division. He says bank-foreclosed properties are becoming a health problem, rather than just an eyesore. For instance, he said the fire department recently had to pump out pools in two abandoned properties because they were becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Under Clement’s plan, the Building Safety Division would draw up a list of all abandoned properties, identify the banks that own them, and then contact them to discuss a clean-up plan. If nonprofits get these jobs, Clement says, it’s a way for them to raise needed revenues. Hard times require inventive solutions, even if it means someone else profits on another person’s misfortunes.—Bruce Trachtenberg