Giving Compass' Take:

• Reclaiming vacant and abandoned properties is a complex problem requiring collaborative and comprehensive approaches. These authors at Urban Institute highlight five elements necessary to achieve neighborhood recovery. 

• How can donors help push federal and state support to build the policy and programmatic infrastructure necessary for collaboration? 

• Here are 6 ways to get more involved in your local community. 

Last month, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, a candidate in the Democratic presidential primary, released a proposal that aims to help small and midsized cities reclaim vacant properties and kick-start neighborhood revitalization.

The plan relies on a simple strategy popular in the 1970s, urban homesteading (PDF), where a quasi-public entity, such as a land bank authority, leverages new sources of federal dollars to acquire vacant homes and then partners with qualified low-income homeowners to rehabilitate properties. To join the program, cities would submit a plan to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development outlining their strategy for connecting the homesteading properties with other infrastructure investments and revitalization initiatives.

Considering these realities, local governments and their residents can’t do this work on their own. Cities need state and federal support to ensure they have the following five elements necessary to reclaim vacant properties and revitalize neighborhoods.

  1. Comprehensive property data and information infrastructure.
  2. Resources for land banking.
  3. Strategic code enforcement.
  4. Public and private resources.
  5. Civic infrastructure and community stewardship.

Read the full article about neighborhood recovery by Joseph Schilling and Brian Bieretz at Urban Institute.