Okay, so maybe “blight” is a strong word, but many suburban dwellers are faced with a few homes on the block in need of a little TLC that, if provided, would raise property values and perhaps make the neighborhood a bit safer.But, how do you help restore a stranger’s home (or an abandoned one) when it’s hard enough to keep the home fires burning?It’s a tough question that many communities face, but sometimes the answer is right in front of your nose.It starts with community.It’s hard to go it alone when addressing things that impact the entire neighborhood. So, a great place to start is at the roots; talking with neighbors and getting a consensus about what might be done.This could happen informally at places where the community gathers, or in a formal setting like a town hall meeting.Get the facts.Obviously, you can’t go meddling with someone else’s property, even if your only desire is to improve it for the community good, so you need to find out who owns it and what they’re doing (or not doing) with it.The neighborly thing to do is to just ask around – and even try knocking on the door – but if that doesn’t produce any answers you can ask your county records office to locate the owner’s name.Outcome #1: You locate the owner. If so, politely address the situation and explore options. These may include:- Volunteer refurbishment- Nonprofit intervention- Purchase in community trust- Private sale- Owner action to mitigate the issueAfter all, it could be that the owner is absent and unaware of the problem, or is financially stressed and welcoming of a helping hand from neighbors.Outcome #2: You don’t locate the owner. In that case, it’s time to call local law enforcement and the planning office.Know the law.It’s important that you don’t even attempt to prune a hedge without getting a thumbs-up from the authorities. Property law is strict, and even good intentions can be punished.With a little luck (and maybe some complimentary landscaping) your neighborhood can be an even stronger, more vibrant place to live.