...depressing, and pointless as well. North American society is currently under the thrall of the myth of the suburban paradise. Since the end of WW2 people have been fleeing the cities and towns to what they think is going to be their picket fenced piece of heaven. Then it turns into a piece of hell. People are now more dysfunctional than ever, trapped in their SUVs in an endless round of commuting, wasting fuel and spewing gases into the air. All the while downtown buildings sit empty and unused.
That's a disgrace.
What we need to do is realise that cities are not a problem to be fixed, they are the solution to many of our problems. Downtown people walk more, are in better shape, use less resources, are more active in their community, and have either an equal or greater quality of life than their suburban counterparts.
What we need in North America are developers willing to see beyond the quick buck of knocking off some low quality hi-cost condos for rich yuppies, but to look to the long term. Design new projects to house a full range of socio-economic and ethnic types. Such diversity actually strengthens a neighbourhood and does wonders in fighting poverty and crime.
Remember, to be a true capitalist you can't just target your product at the rich, you have to make it available and affordable to everyone. The wider the net, the bigger the catch, and the bigger the catch, the bigger the profits. You have to think big, like Henry Ford or Bank of America's Giancarlo Giannini, not small like some fly by night petty hustler.
Take the example of London England's notorious landlords. They often leave whole blocks of buildings officially vacant for no other reason than it gives them an excuse to jack up the prices on the buildings they do allow tenants in.
That should be illegal. If you own a building, you must find a use for it, or face having it taken away and given to someone who will.
People who live downtown should get organised, raise money, and do something about this problem. There should be no more empty buildings while homeless still roam our streets.