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Our place-based initiatives aim to create systemic change through local policy and program interventions—extending impact beyond a single vacant lot, neighborhood, or organization. We work to support local entities that can implement this systems-level, long-term change.


In Detroit, our focus is to reduce vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties by strengthening traditional residential neighborhoods and positioning the public land inventory to support the city’s land use vision. Community Progress staff delivers policy and research, technical assistance, and leadership building and education services to citywide partners.


We tailor our services to fit the unique needs and challenges in Detroit; as such, Community Progress’ place-based work is ever evolving. Recent priority areas in Detroit include:


  • Reducing property deterioration and vacancy through code enforcement and rental regulation
  • Minimizing barriers to property rehabilitation
  • Incentivizing the reoccupancy of vacant homes and preventing future vacancy through property tax reform
  • Strengthening the market through the conversion of large-scale vacant land to intentional open space


The following represent a small sample of technical assistance projects that we have completed in the last few years, categorized under some of our areas of expertise for reader convenience.


Click one of the following links to jump down to the relevant content.


Sample Projects:

Comprehensive Assessment or Strategy Development to Support Vacant Property Revitalization

Strategic Code Enforcement and Structure Reuse 

Property Tax Enforcement and Foreclosure Reform

Vacant Land Maintenance, Open Space Planning, and Reuse Strategies


Comprehensive Assessment or Strategy Development to Support Vacant Property Revitalization

Islandview Greater Villages Comprehensive Neighborhood Revitalization & Green Stormwater Infrastructure Plan (Technical Assistance, 2017)

Community Progress participated on the consultant team for the City’s Planning and Development Department neighborhood planning process. Community Progress identified a refined approach to land acquisition/disposition and zoning that would more effectively support the conversion of large-scale vacant land to intentional open space and bolster residential and business stabilization and growth.

Every Neighborhood Has a Future and It Doesn’t Include Blight: Detroit Blight Removal Task Force Plan (Technical Assistance, 2014)

Participating as a member of the Steering Committee, Community Progress provided analysis and best practices that informed the report’s recommendations to strategically address demolition-condition properties in Detroit and contributed to the research and recommendations on funding blight removal efforts.


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. 


Strategic Code Enforcement and Structure Reuse 

Accelerated Tax Forfeiture of Certified Abandoned Properties: A Tool to Transform Vacant, Tax Foreclosed Properties (Technical Assistance, 2016)

Community Progress developed an overview on how the City can utilize an existing tool in Michigan’s property tax foreclosure law that enables it, like other Michigan cities, to more swiftly transition properties that are vacant, blighted, and tax-delinquent to a productive use and responsible property owner. 


Building an Effective Rental Registration and Certification Program to Strengthen Detroit’s Neighborhoods (Technical Assistance, 2015)

Community Progress reviewed current practices and recommended ways the City could reduce residential property deterioration through more effective and efficient rental property registration and certification.


Cross-State Roundtable: Federal Funding for Blight Elimination (Roundtable, 2015)

Community Progress brought together local and state leaders representing eight key states as well as Federal representatives to discuss and explore opportunities for coordinated action around future federal funding to support blight elimination in US communities like Detroit.


Streamlining Development Services to Facilitate Revitalization in Detroit (Technical Assistance, 2015)

Community Progress researched and provided recommendations, based on national best practices, to improve processes at the City-level to encourage swifter redevelopment of Detroit’s vacant, deteriorated residential and commercial structures. 


Property Tax Enforcement and Foreclosure Reform

Detroit’s Residential Property Tax Structure and Its Impact on Inclusive Housing Growth (Technical Assistance, 2017)

Community Progress researched and developed an overview of the key challenges of Detroit’s current residential property tax structure and key considerations to improve Detroit’s current policies and practices to better support inclusive housing growth.


Detroit’s Property Tax Policies and Practices: An Opportunity for Reform (Research and Policy, 2016)

Community Progress researched and developed a policy brief summarizing the importance of Detroit’s property tax policies and practices in the city’s overall revitalization efforts, and recommended actions, and longer-term considerations for improving this system. This policy brief is accessible here


Vacant Land Maintenance, Open Space Planning, and Reuse Strategies


Detroit-Atlanta Learning Exchange (Learning Exchange, 2017)

Community Progress brought a group of Detroit municipal leaders to Atlanta to learn more about the planning and implementation of innovative land reuse programs. This learning exchange specifically highlighted the Atlanta BeltLine, a public and private sector effort to repurpose thousands of acres of underutilized land, increasing access to greenspace, connecting 45 neighborhoods through trails and diversified transportation and providing new affordable and market-rate housing options.


Key Considerations to Develop a Land Based Incubator in Detroit (Technical Assistance, 2016)

Community Progress researched and developed an overview of key considerations for the City should a land-based incubator be developed in Detroit as a mechanism to grow local businesses while promoting land reuses on formally vacant, unproductive and blighted land.


Open Space in Detroit: Key Ownership and Funding Considerations to Inform a Comprehensive Open Space Planning Process (Technical Assistance, 2015)

Community Progress worked with Detroit Future City to explore long-term ownership, funding, and reuse options for nearly 13 square miles of vacant land in the city. The report (PDF) gives an overview of a number of different ownership models and funding mechanisms for large-scale, long-term open space reuse, and provides recommendations for possible open space land uses for the City, such as urban farming, biofuel, green stormwater infrastructure, and greenways.