Special Report

30 American Ghost Towns

15. ZIP 44507 (Youngstown, Ohio)
> Vacant homes: 367 (18.4% of total)
> 5-yr. population change: -2.3%
> Population: 5,409
> Median home value: $23,400

There are 367 vacant homes — nearly one in every five — in the 44507 zip code in the south-central part of Youngstown, Ohio. Population decline in recent years has likely exacerbated the problem. In the last five years, the number of people living in the area fell by 2.3%. As in most places reporting a population decline and a high vacancy rate, property values in the 44507 ZIP code are near rock bottom. The typical area home is worth just $23,400, about $181,500 below the value of the typical American home.

Economic problems and population decline across Youngstown began in the 1970s and ’80s, with the decline of the city’s once dominant steel industry. The lack of economic opportunity in the area remains a root cause of the high vacancy rate.

Source: guydeckerstdio / Flickr

14. ZIP 21217 (Baltimore, Maryland)
> Vacant homes: 2,456 (18.4% of total)
> 5-yr. population change: -14.7%
> Population: 34,487
> Median home value: $124,800

Situated on the south side of Druid Hill Park in central Baltimore, the 21217 ZIP code covers the city’s Reservoir Hill, Penn North, Druid Heights, Bolton Hill, and Upton neighborhoods. Across Baltimore as a whole, there are about 18,000 vacant properties. The city’s high vacancy rate has been driving up crime and dragging down property values for about a decade. In the 21217 ZIP code alone, 18.4% of all residences are vacant.

Of the nearly 2,500 vacant homes in the area, however, more than 1,744 are classified as investment properties, which suggests that their owners may be trying to rent them or waiting for them to appreciate to sell.

Source: stuseeger / Flickr

13. ZIP 64128 (Kansas City, Missouri)
> Vacant homes: 944 (19.1% of total)
> 5-yr. population change: -7.8%
> Population: 11,379
> Median home value: $41,000

The 64128 ZIP code in Kansas City covers the Knoches Park, Oak Park Northwest, Palestine East, and Sante Fe neighborhoods, as well as Ingleside — some of which are among the highest crime areas in the city. These areas also have some of the highest home vacancy rates in the country. The area’s high crime and a high vacancy rate are likely depressing home values. The typical home in the 64128 ZIP code is worth just $41,000, down from $45,800 in 2014.

Source: Paul Sableman / Flickr

12. ZIP 63113 (St. Louis, Missouri)
> Vacant homes: 874 (19.3% of total)
> 5-yr. population change: -7.1%
> Population: 11,371
> Median home value: $66,800

In the last five years, the number of people living in the 63113 ZIP code — located just north of the Central West End neighborhood in St. Louis — declined by 7.1%. The area’s high vacancy rate of 19.3% is likely partially the result of long-term population decline.

As is often the case, many of the vacant properties in this part of St. Louis are investment properties — meaning they are likely either on the rental market or waiting to be sold at a profit by the owner. If recent trends are any indication, it may be some time before a real estate investment in the area pays off.

Source: MisterClips / iStock via Getty Images

11. ZIP 45402 (Dayton, Ohio)
> Vacant homes: 767 (19.3% of total)
> 5-yr. population change: -4.3%
> Population: 10,053
> Median home value: $57,600

Dayton, Ohio’s 45402 ZIP is centrally located in the city and is bisected by the Miami River. There are currently 767 vacant properties in the area, up from 725 a year ago. The growing vacancy problem is likely due in part to rapid population decline and the resultant reduced demand for housing. In the last five years, the number of people living in the Dayton ZIP code fell by 4.3%.

The area’s population decline is most likely attributable to poor economic conditions. With the typical area household earning less than $27,000 a year and over a third of the population living in poverty, the ZIP code is one of the poorest in the United States.