Community Progress Blog

Kansas City neighborhoods get a boost from pro bono attorneys

Written by on September 25, 2017

By: Peter Hoffman, Rebecca McQuillen, and Kayla Hogan   For thirty years, Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s Economic Development Unit has represented grassroots community groups in Kansas City, Missouri’s urban core. In that time, they’ve worked with long-time residents and stakeholders to rehabilitate hundreds of vacant and abandoned properties into safe and affordable housing. These attorneys…

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From a shipping container to a solar-powered greenhouse: Arts meets agriculture in Detroit

Written by on September 15, 2017

In Detroit, a recycled shipping container will soon become a community beacon for fresh food, job creation, and arts and culture. Part agricultural, part placemaking, the Liberty Harvest project officially launched in July 2017. It is an initiative spearheaded by Resurge Detroit, a nonprofit with a mission to “tackle blight in the city of Detroit…

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From Randyland to grand new plans: Albany and Flint residents learn from Pittsburgh successes

Written by on September 5, 2017

What can dinosaurs teach us about vacant land? Probably not very much. Dinosaurs are long extinct. Even plastic dino-toys – though ironic – have very little to offer us relative to vacancy or community health. I am surprised one would really even ponder this question. But do you know who can share some important insights…

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Bridging policy and placemaking to activate vacant properties in the Twin Cities

Written by on August 7, 2017

Placemaking–and creative placemaking–has received a lot of attention over the past few years in community development circles—but what is it? And how does it relate to vacant and abandoned spaces? The Project for Public Spaces defines placemaking in this way: “Strengthening the connection between people and the places they share, Placemaking refers to a collaborative…

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Celebrating placemaking: The role of arts and culture in community development

Written by on December 14, 2016

Placemaking, wielded skillfully, is a powerful tool to preserve, respect, lift up, and celebrate the culture of a community in ways that go far beyond aesthetics. Giving placemaking and, within that, arts and culture, a seat at the table when community development decisions are made can help to support more equitable outcomes. This can be…

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Why do some cities have so many vacant properties?

Written by on December 1, 2016

  Tarik Abdelazim, our associate director for National Technical Assistance, wrote this blog post (cross-posted from Breathing Lights) to begin to unpack the causes of vacancy and abandonment for residents of the Capital Region of New York. Although focused on cities in New York, the general trends described below are familiar in many cities around…

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Heirs’ Property, Part II: Providing legal aid in rural South Carolina to build family wealth and prevent vacancy

Written by on June 30, 2016

This is Part II of our series on heirs’ property. See Part I, “Preventing ‘tangled titles’ and subsequent blight in Philadelphia” here. What happens to a property after its owner has passed on? In many cases, if the owner doesn’t leave a will, the answer may be unclear, leaving the property with a clouded title and an…

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Heirs’ Property, Part I: Preventing “tangled titles” and subsequent blight in Philadelphia

Written by on June 28, 2016

This is Part I of our series on heirs’ property. See Part II, “Providing legal aid in rural South Carolina to build family wealth and prevent vacancy” here. What happens to a property after its owner has passed on? In many cases, if the owner doesn’t leave a will, the answer may be unclear, leaving the…

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Vacant Home Tour changes the conversation around vacancy in Wilkinsburg

Written by on May 23, 2016

A creative new project in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, is all about changing the conversation around vacancy and abandonment in the community. In its second year, the Vacant Home Tour tells the story behind several vacant homes and businesses, reminding visitors of the rich history of the neighborhood, and inviting participants to view properties as opportunities instead…

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This Tax Day, making the case for property tax reform in Detroit

Written by on April 15, 2016

  Ineffective property tax systems can have a detrimental community impact. They weaken the delivery of services that improve quality of life for local residents – from essential functions like public safety, to supportive services like enforcement of property maintenance standards. Many of the cities that we work in face a shrinking population, widespread property…

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