Mobilize community & develop inventory

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In order to create change in your neighborhood, you need community-wide support. These resources provide guidance on developing strong leadership and defining your community’s vision for successful neighborhood-wide redevelopment.

Once you have mobilized your community to action, the next step is to identify, assess and develop an inventory of problem properties—refer to the tools below.

Create a community vision

It is important to have a vision for your community that will include a strategy for vacant and dilapidated property, beyond demolition. Vacant lots reduce a community’s marketability and can create health and safety issues. By determining what geographic area you want to tackle, getting impacted community members on board, and establishing a vision together, your community will be able to enlist help from local government and others to work toward your goals.

Remember to invite key stakeholders to the discussion. For suggestions on who to include, refer to the Stakeholders tool below.

heartnsoulCommunity Heart and Soul Field Guide [click to download]
This guide published by the Orton Family Foundation offers a step-by-step process for leaders, nonprofits, and volunteers to determine what matters most to residents and plan strategies to meeting those needs. Resources included in the guide: how to use storytelling, how to form a team, how to write a press release, and more.

visioningVisioning questions worksheet [click to download]
This tool offers  questions to consider as you develop a vision for your community.


Stakeholder Engagement Matrix [click to download]
An effective local effort includes all stakeholders throughout each step of the process to eliminate blight in a community. This tool offers steps to identify stakeholders, strategize how to get them to the table, and includes a list of suggestions for possible stakeholders in your community.

commprioritiesCommunity priorities worksheet [click to download]
Once you have taken an inventory of abandoned/dilapidated properties in your community, it is important to prioritize them to determine which ones impact the community the most and require most urgent action. These questions will help ensure that the process of selection is fair.

citizeninstituteruraldesignCitizen’s Institute on Rural Design [click to follow link]
CIRD offers communities resources to find creative strategies that address how to build strong economies and grow jobs; where to locate new growth or redevelop older areas; how to design efficient transportation systems; and how to protect the community’s historic and culturally significant resources.

For ideas on developing a vision for a specific property, click here for Reuse a property.

Tools to identify and inventory problem properties

The City of Fairmont, WV recently completed their BAD Building inventory. Click here to read about their experience.

Also refer to the BAD Building Program model which outlines steps to build capacity, develop an inventory of abandoned/dilapidated buildings, and draft a plan for reuse.

BAD Building Survey Sheet [click to download]
Use this sheet to survey and document vacant and dilapidated properties in your community. It includes a checklist for conditions to look out for.

BAD Buildings Inventory Template [click to download]
Use this spreadsheet to create a comprehensive database of each vacant / dilapidated property that has been surveyed, including condition notes and community priority level.

prioritization gridBad Buildings Prioritization Grid [click to download]
This sheet will help you to rank each vacant or dilapidated property based on certain criteria.
For support, refer to the Prioritizing Properties Instructions [click to download].

Create a redevelopment plan

redevelopmentplanRedevelopment Plan template [click to download]
Once you have created an inventory of the blighted buildings in your community, this document will guide you to assess your abandoned/dilapidated building survey, collect relevant information such as local ordinances and plans, and create a framework for the next steps to revitalizing your community. It should be used in conjunction with the survey tools. You can directly edit the document above. To download a pdf version instead, click here.

Develop strong leadership

hublogoWest Virginia Community Development Hub [click to follow link]
Leadership is key in developing a community-based strategy. The Hub offers workshops and training on leadership, how to assemble the best team, and how to engage your community to act.

neighborhood associationHow to create a neighborhood association [click to download]
A neighborhood association is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for residents and benefits all citizens within the community, with defined geographic boundaries, association by-laws and certain other requirements.

For more support in developing your community, visit the WV Hub which helps to identify leaders and assets; develop plans and set goals; and connect with a wide network of resources to meet those goals

Reach out to organizations in your community

Some grant programs require a non-profit partner or in the case of some housing grants, a provider of social services has to be willing to come to the table. This is an opportunity for a community person to facilitate this kind of partnership. Be polite, persuasive and persistent. Many executive directors are overwhelmed but if they know that there is community support, many will look for opportunities to work together.

To further expand your network, reach out to partner organizations in West Virginia – visit this page for links to helpful network organizations.

Start a non-profit

In some cases, you might find that there is a need in your community that existing governments, organizations, for-profit businesses, and non-profits cannot or will not meet. Sometimes it seems easier to start a community development corporation than to reform an old organization or a local government, but it is important to consider whether this is true, as it can be a complicated and lengthy process.

If a community group wants to start its own non-profit corporation, it is important to complete thorough research. Filing the incorporation papers and applying for non-profit status is just the beginning. Be sure to understand all the legal and financial reporting requirements that are due on a regular basis. Determine who will be responsible for creating and submitting these reports. Failure to comply could lead to fines as well as a withdrawal of the non-profit status.

Visit the West Virginia Nonprofit Association to learn more. Their website includes a checklist to get started. The WVU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic is also a good resource.

In addition to Federal Law and IRS regulations, the WV Code addresses non-profit organizations. The WV Code requires that the non-profit organization register annually. Late fees of $25 per month can be charged for non-compliance. For information required by the WV Code and the WV Secretary of State, consult their website.