Imagine living in the middle of a national park and steps from where one of history’s greatest civil rights leaders was born and raised. Both are realities for tenants of 13 historic houses in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn neighborhood, all within the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park and available for lease from the National Park Service (NPS). The program is popular—there’s a waitlist to rent the properties—but 10 similar homes remain vacant, awaiting needed repairs before they can be occupied.
A new case study by the Cadmus Group, commissioned by The Pew Charitable Trusts, demonstrates that investment and appropriate staffing can increase leasing opportunities within the park, which in turn could generate revenue to help address the almost $14 million in repairs needed there. Overall, the NPS faces a maintenance backlog of nearly $12 billion across its more than 400 sites.
The case study, “Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park: Can an Expanded Leasing Program Reduce Deferred Maintenance?” concludes that historic leasing could benefit other NPS sites as well and recommends that the park take these steps to successfully leverage historic leasing potential:
Marcia Argust directs The Pew Charitable Trusts’ campaign to restore America’s parks.