Vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties plague communities of all sizes across the United States. Whether spurred by natural disasters or industry loss, these properties create compound challenges for residents and local governments. When working to comprehensively address and transform VAD properties—with an emphasis on equitable outcomes—communities can find it difficult to know where to start.

Center for Community Progress’ (The Center)  VAD Academy was created to help public, private, nonprofit, and resident leaders craft equitable, effective approaches to addressing these property challenges. From breaking down complex systems to sharing smart strategies for resident engagement and fostering compliance, the VAD Academy aims to equip leaders to help return all properties to purposeful use.

The 2020 VAD Academy was a virtual “boot camp” and courtesy of NeighborWorks America, there was no registration fee.

The Center has made recordings of the sessions available for review at their website. They can also be accessed below; (registration may be required)

VAD Academy Welcome followed by How Did We Get Here? VAD Properties and their Impact on Communities 

**Session Link: Click Here

Description

Widespread vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties plague communities of all types and sizes. Whether their impact is felt immediately following a disaster or over time, cities and towns with widespread vacancy often struggle with how to halt the trend and return properties to productive purposes. Today, communities have new choices and strategies to effectively address vacancy.

This session will build a foundation for understanding the factors and triggers connected to VAD properties including:

  • The history and significance of VAD properties
  • How and in what ways they affect a community’s quality of life
  • The conditions, policies and decisions – economic, political and environmental – which contribute to widespread vacancy, including housing market conditions, disasters, and inequitable or unsound public policies.

Property Revitalization Framework: A Systems Based Approach

Description

There is no single legal tool, funding source, or government department that can address issues that contribute to vacancy and abandonment alone. For communities, a coordinated approach with interconnected policies and tools is the only way to prevent and address property decline with equity and real compliance in mind.

Join this session to learn:

  • An overview of Community Progress’ Systematic Approach to addressing property vacancy and abandonment;
  • When local governments need tools to acquire or support the transfer and maintenance of properties;
  • Smart strategies for a coordinated approach vacancy and abandonment; and
  • The resident and information requirements that inform effective solutions at work in communities today.

**Session Link: Click Here

Week 1 Extended Q&A with the Presenters

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Week 1 Recap followed by Land Banks and Land Banking Partnerships: A Strategy for Long-Term, Equitable Recovery

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Description

In the last decade, the number of land banks in the United States has increased to more than 200 across 17 states. Land banks are governmental entities, typically authorized pursuant to state law, that acquire, hold, and steward vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to support equitable community development outcomes. While land banks are not a silver bullet, they can serve as a powerful tool to advance community-driven goals in support of more equitable, inclusive, resilient neighborhoods. This session will help participants understand the history and unique functions of land banks and evaluate when and if a land bank is the right community fit, with real-world examples of how land banks of various sizes build partnerships to support affordable housing, lift-up racial equity, and address other local priorities. 

Strategic Code Enforcement: A Critical Tool for Supporting Neighborhood Response

**Session Link: Click Here

Description

Strategic enforcement of housing and building codes can help local governments maximize limited resources and address the harmful impacts of VAD properties on neighbors and neighborhoods. A strategic code enforcement program requires an understanding of the range of available tools and how the use of each tool is more or less likely to compel compliance based on a variety of factors, including neighborhood housing markets and the circumstances of that particular owner. This session will outline the elements of a strategic code enforcement program, including regulation, policy, and “carrots & sticks,” as well as the critical importance of working with other public, private, and community partners to ensure enforcement outcomes are equitable and support the health and safety of existing neighborhood residents. Tools to be discussed include administrative remedies, nuisance abatement, receivership, rental registration and licensing, and alignment with broader neighborhood stabilization efforts.

Source Material for Week 2 Sessions

Be sure to also check out some of the Additional Resources discussed by this week’s faculty:

 

Week 2 Extended Q&A with the Presenters

**Session Link: Click Here (Session Recording Not Yet Available)

Week 2 Recap followed by Understanding Markets: Getting and Using Data to Make Strategic, Equitable VAD Decisions

**Session Link: Click Here

Description

Every neighborhood’s trajectory is impacted by the supply and demand for that neighborhood’s property. Data on these trends can make or break any revitalization effort.

Join this session to:

  • Understand the critical relationships between market indicators, vacant properties, and owner behavior;
  • Explore options for compiling data to accurately interpret neighborhood outcomes; and
  • Learn to leverage information to better address the local drivers of vacancy and deterioration, property conditions, and other factors affecting community resiliency.

This session will also provide several examples of communities that have leveraged data and planning to inform local decisions on VAD strategies and properties.

A Racial Equity Journey: Inside the Evolution of Two Atlanta Community Development Leaders

**Session Link: Click Here

Description

While the change we often seek is systematic, many of the challenges and opportunities leaders encounter start with something very personal. Join this session to hear from Bambie Hayes-Brown and Sara Toering as they share on:

  • How community development partnerships are helping to disrupt and reform inequitable and racist laws, policies, and practices in Georgia;
  • The experiences that helped them evolve from resident organizers and tenant advocates to national community development leaders; and
  • Community development’s opportunity to create change and more leaders today.

Set to the backdrop of the state of Georgia which is the well-known home of the world’s busiest airport, host of one of the most memorable Olympic games, and the seat of a thriving local economy; join in to hear their experiences, share questions, and interact with two active change leaders who are focused on place-based reform.

Week 3 Extended Q&A with the Presenters

**Session Link: Click Here (Session Recording Not Yet Available)

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