Community Progress Blog

How the zombie house crisis mutated and what cities are doing about it

Written by on July 10, 2015
AP Photo/Mike Groll

Cross-posted from Next City, this article is one of a ten-part series inspired by the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference. Are there more zombies in our city than ever before, or are we just paying more attention to them? “Zombie properties” is a clever name to describe residential buildings that are neither alive nor dead: They are caught in…

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Supreme Court’s fair housing ruling could boost true neighborhood revitalization

Written by on June 26, 2015
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Cross-posted from Next City, this article is one of a ten-part series inspired by the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference. In what’s being widely hailed as a gigantic victory for civil rights law, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday to uphold the use of disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. The much-debated theory of disparate impact centers around…

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A 341-page blight-fighting plan requires a lot of teamwork

Written by on June 23, 2015
The Detroit Blight Removal Task Force has used a data-driven approach in eliminating blight. (AP Photo/Corey Williams)

Cross-posted from Next City, this article is one of a ten-part series inspired by the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference. Three hundred and forty-one pages and 235.5 megabytes. That’s the length and size of the Detroit Blight Removal Task Force plan, published last year. Based on a survey of the city’s 380,000 parcels, the task force found some 85,000…

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On East Side of Detroit, managing vacant land takes collaboration

Written by on June 4, 2015
A green infrastructure installation is planned for this vacant lot on the east side of Detroit. (Photo by Matthew Lewis)

Cross-posted from Next City, this article is one of a ten-part series inspired by the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference. The verdure of spring is on full display in Detroit — but so, too, are the challenges of maintaining open land in a fiscally challenged city where over 30 percent of all parcels are vacant.…

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Why cities need to get smarter about property taxes

Written by on June 4, 2015
Grass and weeds grow in front of two vacant homes in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Cross-posted from Next City, this article is one of a ten-part series inspired by the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference. With property taxes accounting for up to 75 percent of local government revenue, everything depends on getting them right. It’s the pool of funds we depend upon to support everything from infrastructure to schools to trash pick-up.…

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#RVP2015: Hearing your voices at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference

Written by on May 28, 2015
RVP Installation

At the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference held last week in Detroit, more than 1,100 attendees engaged in meaningful conversations about causes and solutions for vacancy and abandonment. But those conversations weren’t just taking place in meetings rooms. Using #RVP2015 and #RVPMovement, thousands of tweets covered a range of topics, including those highlighted below: Land Banking & Code Enforcement; Arts and Placemaking; Social Equity, Fairness,…

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Immigration in the Motor City: Explore at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference

Written by on April 10, 2015
Southwest Detroit (Credit :Ian Freimuth, 2009)

Post-industrial cities throughout the Rust Belt have experienced significant population loss over the last fifty years, leading to unprecedented numbers of vacant and abandoned properties. Immigrants can breathe new life into neighborhoods that have seen disinvestment and abandonment. At the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference, participants will have the opportunity to explore immigration and community development in Detroit through a…

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What does it take to eliminate blight? New framework offers a model

Written by on March 19, 2015
Properties in Need of Blight Removal

  The City of Flint Planning Commission recently adopted Beyond Blight: City of Flint Blight Elimination Framework. With a five-year implementation timeline, the Framework uses an in-depth, data-driven approach that brings increased transparency and clarity to the City’s work — and, in so doing, it offers a model other cities can learn from. News release >> Framework summary…

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South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “We’re part of a movement”

Written by on March 19, 2015
Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, hit the nail on the head when he shared with us his thoughts on the value of the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference: it’s a chance learn from each other but, perhaps just as importantly, it is an opportunity to remember that we aren’t alone in this work. Together, we’re part of…

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Building a movement at the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference

Written by on March 2, 2015
Streetview of Downtown - Detroit, MI-Credit Luke Telander-2014

In just a few months, Detroit will play host to community development leaders from across the country for the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference (RVP), charting the course for the emerging movement to reuse our nation’s vacant properties. After visiting five other cities over the last eight years, we could not be more excited to bring…

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