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Michigan Initiatives


Detroit Homes

About our Michigan Initiatives

The state of Michigan, already dealing with significant decline in its industrial base, was one of the first states to feel the impacts of the national economic downturn and foreclosure crisis. Even while recovery begins, many Michigan towns, cities and counties continue to face the lasting effects of population loss and a weakened housing market, including exacerbated vacancy rates and increased blight.


Through its dedicated Michigan program, Community Progress works closely with communities across the state to develop effective and equitable systems, policies, and programs that will ensure entrenched, systemic blight no longer exists in Michigan communities.


Downtown FlintWhat we do

Operating out of our headquarters in Flint and a satellite office in Detroit, the Michigan Initiatives staff serves as the leading resource for local and state policies and best practices that address the full cycle of property revitalization, from blight prevention, through the acquisition and maintenance of problem properties, to their productive reuse.


Our core program areas in Michigan mirror those of our organization as a whole. They are:

- Technical Assistance



- Leadership and Education


Our core areas of expertise benefit from our deep knowledge of Michigan as well as our organization’s experience helping communities nationally. They include:

Vacant land maintenance and reuse strategies

Strategic code enforcement and problem property abatement 

- Property tax foreclosure enforcement and reform

Land banks and land banking


Downtown DetroitNews 

Blog Posts:

See our most popular blog posts below:

Communities aim to stabilize neighborhoods through effective rental registration and certification programs

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

New research finds investment in neighborhood stabilization pays off—and more is needed


State Legislative Updates:

We track and summarize Michigan legislation that may be of interest to community development practitioners, in order to make it easy for you to stay up-to-date on legislative activity. To receive these updates in your inbox, subscribe to our email list – and be sure aspecify that your state is Michigan. See our most recent legislative updates below:

- July 2016 Michigan Legislative Update

- June 2016 Michigan Legislative Update

- May 2016 Michigan Legislative Update

- April 2016 Michigan Legislative Update

March 2016 Michigan Legislative Update

February 2016 Michigan Legislative Update

2015 Year in Review Michigan Legislative Update

More about our work:

Technical Assistance

Downtown MarquetteCommunity Progress serves as the leading national resource for high-impact, cutting edge technical assistance that addresses the full cycle of problem property revitalization. By working intensively with those communities ready to innovate, we support local reform, while creating best practices and models that can be adapted to other communities across Michigan.

We offer a range of fee for service technical assistance services in our core areas of expertise to 

- Diagnose the underlying factors that keep problem properties “stuck” in decline and negatively impact surrounding neighborhoods 
- Help communities understand their existing tools and powers and develop new ones 
- Support the development of comprehensive strategies to increase the effectiveness of local efforts
- Guide implementation of a community’s strategy and tools to help ensure success 

How to request TA

To request Michigan technical assistance, please complete the Technical Assistance Request Form and email to Danielle Lewinski, Vice President and Director of Michigan Initiatives at dlewinski@communityprogress.net.


Although technical assistance is primarily provided on a fee-for-service basis, our national Technical Assistance team now offers the Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP), a competitive scholarship program to support innovative and forward-thinking projects at a significantly discounted rate to communities around the country. To learn more about TASP, please visit our dedicated TASP webpage here.


Sample Projects

Open Space in Detroit: Key Ownership and Funding Considerations to Inform a Comprehensive Open Space Planning Process (2015). Through our Technical Assistance Scholarship Program, Community Progress provided technical assistance to Detroit Future City Implementation Office to inform the development of a citywide open space planning process. Our report identified land ownership models and financing strategies for long-term and large-scale reuse of vacant land in the city.


Michigan Blight Elimination Guidebook (2015). The Michigan Blight Elimination Guidebook guides a municipality through the major steps to create a blight elimination plan. It also offers a helpful, centralized location for many resources on blight elimination tools, partners, and funding sources. The Guidebook is hosted by the Michigan Vacant Property Campaign and is accessible here.


Flint, Michigan Code Enforcement Report (2013). Community Progress worked with the City of Flint to assess current code enforcement practices, share national best practices and offer recommendations for more effectively tackling substandard rental properties. Our report also highlighted the value of using quality parcel data and market conditions to inform blight reduction efforts, including the strategic deployment of code enforcement resources and interventions. 


Calhoun County Land Bank Authority Strategic Plan (2013 – 2014). Community Progress worked closely with the Calhoun County Land Bank Authority’s (CCLBA) board and staff members to update formalized priorities, policies, and procedures to align with the overall mission, vision, and goals of the land bank. These documents helped to provide a strong foundation for the ongoing acquisition, management, and disposition of properties held by the land bank and ensure that the transactions of the land bank were clear, consistent, and transparent. Further building on this work, Community Progress staff also led intensive strategic planning sessions with staff of the land bank honing in on CCLBA programs/activities, organizational development, financial sustainability, and board development.


Detroit Future City Strategic Framework (2011 - 2012). The Detroit Future City Plan is the result of a multi-year planning process, laying out a vision for future land use, neighborhoods, economic development, public land, and civic capacity. Community Progress participated as a consultant on the technical team, facilitated the multi-sector public land working group, and authored the Public Land and Assets section of the plan. This work detailed the challenges and opportunities of Detroit’s significant land holdings; provided a decision matrix for how to maintain, acquire, sell, and reuse land based on a variety of factors such as market and future land use; and outlined the steps for implementation of the land use vision relating to the reuse of public land. (NOTE: Detroit was also a Round 2 TASP scholarship recipient. Check out the final report (November 2015) to see how we continued to explore ownership and reuse strategies for the City’s extensive open space inventory.)


Policy Brief: Detroit’s Property Tax Policies and Practices. This policy brief calls attention to the importance of Detroit’s property tax policies and practices in the city’s overall revitalization efforts, and offers some recommended actions, and longer term considerations for improving this system.


Policy Work

Community Progress provides a broad range of assistance at the local government level in the formation of new ordinances and programs through its technical assistance work. At the state level, Community Progress works to enact new statutes and statutory amendments and ensure that local communities are aware and engaged on state-level vacant property policy initiatives. Policy proposals address a range of issues that help communities achieve the goals of vacant property prevention, acquisition, and reuse. Michigan priority areas include: property tax enforcement systems, blight elimination resources, land banks and land banking, and code enforcement. 


Sample Projects

Policy Brief: Detroit’s Property Tax Policies and Practices. This policy brief calls attention to the importance of Detroit’s property tax policies and practices in the city’s overall revitalization efforts, and offers some recommended actions, and longer term considerations for improving this system.

Michigan Legislative Updates (recurring). This newsletter provides updates on legislative activity on policy areas related to vacant and problem properties. Subscribe to the newsletter – and be sure to specify that your state is Michigan.



Community Progress’ Michigan research agenda includes both work that supports specific technical assistance and policy development engagements, and that elevates knowledge in the field as a whole. For more about Community Progress’s national research agenda click here.


Sample Project

State of Vacancy Report (2014). We examined the general trends in residential vacancy and distressed property between 2000 and 2013 by county and major city throughout the state of Michigan. The report illustrated that vacancy continues to be a challenge for nearly all communities in the state.


Flint-Youngstown ExchangeLeadership and Education

Community Progress is working to create a systemic and impactful community of practice, populated by well-informed, connected, and collaborative leaders who will develop and implement policies and practices that support transformation of vacant, abandoned, and problem properties. Our Michigan leadership and education initiatives focus on three strategies:

- Mobilizing cross-jurisdiction problem solving and learning, 

- Expanding the knowledge of local leaders on best practices, and 

- Encouraging collaboration and coordination among state and local leaders to promote the introduction and enactment of local policies and practices.

Activities include:

- City-to-city learning exchanges,

- Creating and managing new working groups and partnerships,

- Roundtables and summits,

- Workshops, presentations, and trainings, and

- Webinars.

Sample Projects


Michigan Land Bank Leadership Summit (annual). This annual event, co-hosted with the Michigan Association of Land Banks, is the only state-based event that brings together the executive leadership of Michigan’s land banks for a multi-day direct peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunity. Each year this event focuses on uplifting innovative land bank activities and addressing emerging issues impacting land banks.


Small Cities – Large Results in Flint, Michigan (2015). This half-day roundtable brought participants from smaller US cities as well as national experts to Flint, Michigan, for focused conversations on best practices to support broad-based, inclusive revitalization, with a special emphasis on downtown redevelopment and partnerships with anchor institutions.