Dozens of cities throughout the Midwest are awash in an excess supply of housing.
Indeed, it is hard to find an older city from western New York to Iowa that does not have several neighborhoods of hastily constructed homes built shortly after World War II and are now derelict.
Muncie, Gary, South Bend, Terre Haute and a dozen more Hoosier cities bear this burden. In each city, as many as one in seven homes are abandoned. In many neighborhoods, several times that number of homes will become vacant or fall into decrepitude during the next generation.
It is, quite honestly, a large-scale collapse seen before only in some western ghost towns and mining villages in Appalachia. What then can we do?
In many places, the direct application of the bulldozer is needed. Many of my historically minded friends cringe at this option. They argue rightfully that these communities have many of the attributes that new urbanists contend are the savior of cities.
They are small, densely packed places, with easy walking access to city centers. The problem is that real estate markets value these places somewhat less enthusiastically, often at zero value, and it is markets, not urban theorists, who set value.