This article was adapted from our latest book, "Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons." Download your free pdf copy today.

Cities across the U.S. experienced a record number of foreclosures following the burst of the housing bubble in 2007 and the ensuing financial crisis. Millions of people were unable to pay their mortgages and subsequently lost their homes to banks and mortgage companies. These financial institutions were then left with the task of maintaining a large number of vacant properties, which they were not equipped to do.

In order to disincentivize banks from foreclosing on occupied residences, the city of Richmond passed the Foreclosure Fine Ordinance in 2008. The ordinance established a fine on property owners, including banks, of $1,000 per day if they failed to maintain their vacant properties up to city code. The aim was to keep more people in their homes and allow them to maintain their properties. Otherwise, a large number of vacant homes would likely enter into disrepair and trigger a process of urban decay.

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 Activating the Urban Commons

Header image by Jurriaan Snikkers on Unsplash

Mai Sutton


Mai Sutton |

Mai is a freelance organizer and writer based in Oakland, California, focused on the intersection of human rights, solidarity economics, and the digital commons. She was formerly at Shareable as the Community Engagement