The number of abandoned businesses in Socorro is too large for our economic health. We have empty hotels, vacant Tastee-Freezes and grocery stores, and numerous abandoned houses.  At the same time, students and new residents have to pay surprising rents because there has been next to no housing development in our town.  It is not difficult to draw a line between businesses that cannot make a profit, high rents, and a lack of population that might use these businesses.

Some larger cities (e.g. Vancouver, Canada and Oakland, California) have turned to vacancy taxes.  Vacancy taxes are increased property taxes on long unused properties.  One could make them higher still on abandoned properties with out of state owners or corporations (e.g. New York hedge funds such as those currently buying up mobile home parks nationwide).

The additional tax money could be used to rehabilitate abandoned hotels into starter apartments or provide rental vouchers for new residents (like Loup City, Nebraska and Harmony, Minnesota).  At the same time, the tax sends a market signal to owners of empty structures to sell them, or reduce their rent to attract customers.

Whether or not this is the best solution to our housing problem, it seems to me the time is ripe for new approaches to protect our Socorro home.

Richard Sonnenfeld


Richard Sonnenfeld