Detroit Future City Team Receives Scholarship to Assist with Development of Vacant Property Strategy

January 29, 2015

The DFC Implementation Office, with other key stakeholders, is one of the recipients of the Center for Community Progress’ second round of the competitive Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP), alongside groups of local leaders in Dallas, Texas; Gary, Indiana; and Trenton, New Jersey. Through TASP, the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress), a national nonprofit, will help local leaders develop new strategies to address property blight, vacancy and abandonment.

Community Progress’ work in Detroit will focus primarily assisting the Detroit Future City (DFC) Implementation Office and other partners, including city government, with the early development of a citywide open space plan. Community Progress will help to identify long-term land ownership models, financing strategies for land reuse, and existing examples of open space networks in other cities.

“The Center for Community Progress has been an important partner in several of our initiatives, and we are thrilled that the DFC Implementation Office and the city will continue benefiting from their support through the Technical Assistance Scholarship Program,” said Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr., executive director of the Detroit Future City Implementation Office. “The Center for Community Progress team can lend expertise and national best practices that will be critical to the DFC Implementation Office and our partners, as we work with stakeholders to develop an innovative open space plan for Detroit.”

Detroit was chosen through a competitive Request for Applications (RFA) process. Through the application process, cities requested assistance in one or more of TASP’s key issue areas. These include topics such as strategic code enforcement, data and information systems, and vacant land maintenance and reuse strategies. Proposed projects are reviewed on a range of criteria, including the potential for innovation that other cities can learn from, demonstrated leadership to implement reform and overall need.

“The team in Detroit demonstrated strong leadership and a heartfelt commitment to developing new approaches to problem properties,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “We’re just as committed to supporting their efforts and excited to deepen our existing partnerships in the city.”

Each selected city will receive assistance from a team of national experts. Technical assistance will take place throughout the first half of 2015 and may include, for example, staff training sessions, legal and policy analysis, and tailored reports with recommended changes. In addition to its work in Detroit, the Center for Community Progress will assist Dallas with policies related to code enforcement and advise both Gary and Trenton on property data and information systems. Grant funding from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation provides the majority of the program’s support.

“Many of our country’s great cities struggle to find effective solutions to the blight that stands in the way of their recovery,” said Janis Bowdler, senior program director for community development at JPMorgan Chase. “With support from JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Center for Community Progress will provide advice and assistance to help these cities develop customized plans to stabilize and revitalize their neighborhoods.”

In addition to TASP, the Center for Community Progress is bringing its national Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference to Detroit on May 19-21, 2015. The conference is expected to draw 800-1,000+ professionals from around the country to Detroit to explore the latest tools to combat vacancy and move beyond neighborhood blight.

Since its founding in 2010, the Flint, Michigan-based Center for Community Progress has provided technical assistance to more than 100 communities across 22 states. Community Progress launched TASP in early 2014 in response to two needs: first, the need to develop fresh approaches to problem properties that could become models for cities to replicate, and second, the need to provide individual cities with affordable, high-quality guidance in the fight to remediate blighted, vacant properties.

More information about the Technical Assistance Scholarship Program is available on the Center for Community Progress website.