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Inside Flint's first master plan since 1960

The city of Flint has completed its first master plan since 1960. The plan employs strategies used in cities like Youngstown and Detroit, such as designated green neighborhoods and offering lower rent to artists and other creatives. 

According to an excerpt from the article: 

“Flint is already in the process of revitalizing,” said Alicia Kitsuse, a Flint area program officer for the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. “The master plan is a reference for coordinating the resources in the city, and also pointing out the opportunities for raising the profile of assets and building on them… Engagement will be key to getting projects implemented.”

Read the complete story here.

A new effort in Albany to put lenders in charge of abandoned properties

New York attorney general Eric T. Schneiderman will outline new legislation that will make banks responsible for New York's so-called "zombie properties," or abandoned homes. 

According to an excerpt from the article: 

The bill Mr. Schneiderman will be asking Albany lawmakers to embrace will make lenders responsible for homes soon after they are abandoned, requiring banks to register the properties in a central database and pay for their upkeep, according to government staff members briefed on the legislation but not authorized to speak on the record.

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TRF: Blight enforcement increases home values

A report from The Reinvestment Fund indicates that Philadelphia's anti-blight laws have increased property values over the last few years. 

According to an excerpt from the article: 

The report, "Strategic Property Code Enforcement and Impacts on Surrounding Markets," to be released in a few weeks (an executive summary and presentation was released this week) found that addressing blighted properties through fines and permit fees increased the sales value of surrounding properties by as much as $74 million.

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Battling blight: Detroit maps entire city to find bad buildings

Detroit's Blight Task Force uses mapping tools to determine which of the city's 80,000 abandoned properties are salvageable. 

According to an excerpt from the article: 

Lauren Hood works with Loveland Technologies, a company that developed a new way of mapping Detroit. They call it "blexting" -- sending teams throughout the city to text pictures and descriptions of blight to a database. Hood says that in a few months, that data will be available as an app for anyone to access, or correct.

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Orr proposes half-billion dollars for blight removal in his bankruptcy blueprint

Detroit emergency manager Kevyn Orr wants to spend $520.3 million through 2019 on removing blight in the city. 

According to an excerpt from the article:

Among other things, this investment will allow the city to increase the rate of residential demolitions from an average of 114 demolitions per week to an average of between 400 to 450. Orr said the city intends to focus initial efforts around schools and areas identified by the Detroit Works Project and the Detroit Future City project.

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Mortgage aid funds redirected into razing abandoned Indiana homes

Indiana will redirect $75 Million currently being used to keep homeowners in their homes to demolish blighted properties. 

According to an excerpt from the article:

The new Blight Elimination Program will pay 90 percent of the cost to tear down at least 4,000 of the state’s more than 50,000 vacant homes.

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$70M to be distributed in Illinois as foreclosure crisis relief

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announed in July that she would be distributing $70 million to Illinois communities struggling with foreclosure. 
 

According to an excerpt from the article:

The funds, made available by a $25 billion national settlement with five mortgage lenders accused of illegal foreclosure practices, will be distributed among 54 non-profit agencies across the state. The agencies all demonstrate a commitment to undoing the damage caused by the foreclosure crisis and submitted applications for a portion of the money in February.

Read the complete story here.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to give $20M to land banks

New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announed at a June press conference that he will give $20 million to eight new land banks.

According to an excerpt from the article:

KyArie Rolon, 12, watched in his front yard on Marcellus Street as his mom, a paramedic, told her story about buying her first home last fall in a neighborhood she hopes will fill up with others who look out for each other.

She stood with New York's attorney general, the mayor, the county executive, two state senators, a state assemblyman, city councilors and others who have worked to renovate the Near West Side of Syracuse.

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Detroit Blight Authority to remove blight

Nonprofit Detroit Blight Authority hopes to remove 14 blocks of blight in the Brightmoor neighborhood.

According to an excerpt from the article:

The group has hired 25 local residents, clearing an urban jungle of brush, trees and garbage to the point where occupied and abandoned homes are visible from the street and to each other. In a Detroit neighborhood like Brightmoor that is regarded as a victory.

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Five Michigan cities to share $100M federal grant to remove blight

Five Michigan cities including Grand Rapids and Detroit will share a $100M federal grant to remove blight. 

According to an excerpt from the article:

Gov. Rick Snyder said Tuesday that Detroit will get the bulk of the money, with $52 million being used to tackle some of the city’s 78,000 abandoned properties. The funding initially was announced in June, but additional details were released Tuesday.

Read the complete story here
 

Redevelopment in Buffalo

Post-industrial Buffalo is seeing a resurgence under the care of committed residents. 


According to an excerpt from the article:

Before he returned to his hometown, where he became president and chief executive of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the nonprofit group overseeing the development, Mr. Enstice spent five years in New York in the late 1990s helping Lorne Michaels produce "Saturday Night Live."

Mr. Enstice, who turns 40 next month, also knows Buffalo, a recovering Great Lakes city that peaked in population and prosperity 60 years ago.

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How Baltimore activists fight blight

Carol Ott runs the site Baltimore Slumlord Watch. She's one activist working on the ground in Johnston Square to revitalize her neighborhood. 

According to an excerpt from the article:

On a typical day, Ott walks around neighborhood blocks in some of Baltimore's most distressed and dilapidated neighborhoods. She takes pictures and catalogs the vacant homes. Then she digs into public records to find out who owns the buildings, and posts that info online.

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Development with a mission? Possible

Seawall Development Co. in Baltimore turns vacant properties into low rent housing options for teachers and office space for nonprofits. 

According to an excerpt from the article: 

The $21 million Union Mill will fill up its office space next month when Fuel Fund of Maryland and Maryland Disability Law Center move in. Six Sewall employees also moved in this month. By April, Union Mill will also house Artifact Coffee, the latest venture from Woodberry Kitchen’s Spike and Amy Gjerde, employees who work for the restaurant owner. (See related story.) "Hundreds" are waiting to snag one of the below market rate apartments at Union Mill and Miller's Court, Constable says.

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Join us at the APA and Brownfields Conferences!

As we’re busily developing the 2013 Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference, we're pleased to be participating in two other very important conferences over the next few months -- the National Planning Conference (April in Chicago) and the National Brownfields Conference (May in Atlanta.) If you're attending either event, we hope that you'll join our sessions, share what's going on in your work and say hello.
 
Land Banking and Historic Preservation
National Planning Conference
Session Date/Time: April 17
 
Community Progress' Michael Freeman will be presenting alongside representatives from the Detroit Land Bank and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network to discuss how concerted and coordinated efforts between historic preservationists and land banking entities can stabilize communities and spark neighborhood revitalization. Through a thoughtful disposition process, land banks can help to ensure that buildings end up in the hands of developers who want to invest in historically sensitive renovations that can help revitalize the surrounding community and preserve historic assets. Municipal leaders and others all over the country are often confronted with difficult decisions about demolition and reimagining the physical environment. Share your experiences and help shape national thinking on these issues.
 
Find out more about the conference here.
 
You Need How Many Acres?!?: Property Consolidation Strategies and Other Municipal Tools
for Brownfields Redevelopment Projects
National Brownfields Conference
Session Date/Time: May 16 at 1:00 p.m.
 
Community Progress Vice President and Director of the New Orleans Vacant Property Initiative, Nicole Heyman, will be presenting with Doug Leeper and Sam Stephens from the City of Cincinnati to discuss different ways municipalities have tackled the challenge of property acquisition. Negotiation techniques and code enforcement are two strategies that will be discussed. We know the Brownfields conference is a big one, but hope you’ll find your way to join us.
 
Find out more about the conference here.

Pennsylvania governor signs land bank bill

Community Progress President and CEO, Tamar Shapiro, joined Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, State Representatives Chris Ross and John Taylor as well as numerous housing and community development advocates for a ceremonial land bank bill signing in Northeast Philadelphia on Jan. 17. The result of years of work by advocates and forward-thinking legislators, the law allows municipalities with populations of 10,000 or more to establish land banks to acquire, manage and repurpose vacant, abandoned and tax-foreclosed properties to support local land use planning goals.
 
For two years, Community Progress worked with Pennsylvania Rep. Chris Ross, who chaired the House Urban Affairs Committee; Rep. John Taylor, who headed the land bank legislation; and Sen. Gene Yaw, chair of the Senate’s Urban Affairs and Housing Committee, to share the best practices in land banking and how communities in Pennsylvania could benefit. One of the key statewide advocacy organizations that led the charge for the legislation was the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania (HAP); Community Progress is pleased to continue working with HAP to educate and train the state’s local leaders about the new opportunity and to work with local governments to take the next step in creating land banks throughout the State of Pennsylvania.
 
With 300,000 vacant properties across the state, including an estimated 40,000 in Philadelphia and 19,000 in Pittsburgh, the law is being heralded as an important step forward by urban, suburban and rural legislators and activists alike.
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