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Cityscape: Volume 11 Number 3 | Chapter 12



Volume 11 Number 3

High Business and Residential Vacancy Rates

Todd W. McNeil

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Geographic Information Systems organize and clarify the patterns of human activities on the earth’s surface and their interaction with each other. GIS data, in the form of maps, can quickly and powerfully convey relationships to policymakers and the public. This department of Cityscape includes maps that convey important housing or community development policy issues or solutions. If you have made such a map and are willing to share it in a future issue of Cityscape, please contact

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The recent upheaval in the housing and mortgage markets and the downturn in commercial activity have increased concerns about the viability of many communities. Long-term vacancies, whether residential or commercial, can affect the value of property in surrounding neighborhoods, the quality of life within communities, and the overall local economy. In response to these concerns, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has developed maps of the distribution of high vacancy rates in various metropolitan areas. Two such maps, exhibit 1 and exhibit 2, represent the urban centers of the Denver, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia metropolitan areas. The maps depict a relatively new vacancy data set HUD has obtained from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

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