Other Articles

Real Estate

Monetizing Masterpieces in Detroit’s Bankruptcy

IN 2009, GENERAL MOTORS CORP. FILED FOR CHAPTER 11 BANKRUPTCY AND SOLD OFF ITS HUMMER, SAAB, AND SATURN DIVISIONS IN ORDER TO REPAY CREDITORS. The city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2013, and attracted worldwide speculation that it would sell off Matisses, Cezannes, and Rembrandts. In fact, two creditors, Financial Guaranty Insurance Company and Syncora Guarantee, Inc., were persistent in their demand to monetize the city’s art collection held in the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).1 Prior to the city’s bankruptcy, few people understood how intertwined the DIA was with the city’s finances.

Real Estate

Fix It or Lose It: The Allure and Untapped Potential of Pennsylvania’s Abandoned and Blighted Property Conservatorship Act

IMAGINE BEING ABLE TO SUE SOMEONE OVER THE POOR CONDITION OF A DERELICT HOUSE in your neighborhood. The Pennsylvania Abandoned and blighted Property Conservatorship Act1 (the “Act”) affords such opportunity. While housing code regulations threaten violators with fines, and urban renewal laws incentivize investors with benefits, conservatorship is uniquely situated both in theory and in mechanics. The focal point shifts from the wrongdoer and fixer, to the interests of the injured third parties. Conservatorship allows those injured parties to seek a custodial role over the nuisance property that could potentially lead to ownership. Like Pennsylvania’s tax sale law,2 it creates a market for distressed assets; however, the laws are distinct.

Affordable Housing

The Homelessness Muddle Revisited

I MUST CONFESS TO MY MANY PERSONAL INTERESTS REGARDING THE TOPIC OF HOMELESSNESS. Literally decades after my cross-country hitchhiking adventures (about 9,000 miles’ worth), I discovered that I myself had supposedly once been homeless. At the time, I never thought of it that way, regardless of sleeping under interstate highway overpasses or along roadsides safely out of view from passing traffic. Nor did I think of myself as “homeless” after my abusive father expelled me from the family home at age fifteen (believe me, I was all to happy to leave), or during all those weeks that I slept on the tavern floor where I worked, or when I squatted in a vacant apartment a friend and I illegally occupied during one summer. Nor did I consider myself homeless during the odd night here and there I spent sleeping under shrubbery in the town park, or in a car, or wherever. But according to some definitions, for an eight-year period on and off, I was supposedly homeless. Still, I was never what I regard as a true street person, pushing a stolen shopping cart filled with my worldly possessions. Except for one occasion of panhandling for rock concert ticket money outside of an arena, I never begged for oney on the street. While hitchhiking, I felt I had my home on my back, and more importantly, I was on the move.

Other 2017 Issues

Find all quarterly issues of Urban Lawyer from 2017.