Tackling blight is expensive. Kansas City, Kansas, is betting that data can reverse decades of urban decay. The Unified Government hopes to address decades of neglect with money from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ What Works Cities initiative. The idea is to connect smaller municipalities with data tools that can help them govern better. The advantage to partnering with Bloomberg is Kansas City, Kansas, won’t have to develop its own infrastructure to fight the problem. It can borrow from what partner cities have learned. Click here for the full story.
Four vacant lots on Detroit’s west side have been given new life as stormwater retention gardens, each capable of corralling up to 300,000 gallons of water below ground per year while creating a beautiful common space for neighbors up above.
Initiated by an interdisciplinary team of University of Michigan students, the project represents a few significant firsts: the first green stormwater infrastructure project to receive investment from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD); the first time that department and the Detroit Land Bank Authority have collaborated. And with their massive capacity and appealing design, the stakeholders are also hoping to prove just how much green infrastructure can do. Click here for the full story.
The city of Los Angeles has approved a deal for nonprofit and private developers to convert “nuisance” motels into 500 permanent supportive apartments for homeless veterans, a major step forward toward developing large-scale housing for hundreds of homeless veterans. Advocates say about 2,700 homeless veterans remain in the county, despite an intensive drive by local and federal officials.
Under the deal, developers will purchase underutilized, often run-down motels from private owners and convert them to efficiency apartments. The city’s housing authority will issue vouchers funded by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will cover residents’ rent and provide supportive services, including case management and counseling. Click here for the full story.
The mayor of Imperial Beach, California has made it his mission to clean up neighborhoods by tearing down one rusty chain-link fence at a time. He is partnering with nonprofit organizations, such as one that uses sustainable construction techniques to create affordable homes, community centers, creative gathering spaces and other structures out of trash and recyclables, to develop abandoned sites into useful gathering places for the community. Click here for the full story.
Artists from all over America started coming in 2000 to buy and restore homes in Lowertown, Paducah, Kentucky’s oldest — and most blighted – neighborhood. The neighborhood is now home to more than 70 artists, thanks to the city’s artist relocation program which was made possible with the help of a locally owned bank that willing to take a chance on this untested idea. Click here for the full story.
“Artists are the kind of folks who see what can be,” Barnett said. “They see potential, and we knew that was what it was going to take when they came in to see the neighborhood in its current condition.”
In Kansas City, MO, military veterans started a program to build tiny houses on vacant land for struggling and homeless veterans. They formed a nonprofit organization and acquired the property from the Kansas City Land Bank. To build and equip each house costs an estimated $10,000.
“The good news is veteran homelessness is declining thanks to programs like this one.”
Congratulations to the four West Virginia organizations that were awarded EPA Brownfield ARC grants! The EPA recently awarded more than $1.9 million in Brownfield ARC grants to revitalize former industrial sites and promote economic development in West Virginia.
- BDC of the Northern Panhandle
- City of Thomas
- Wayne County EDA
Wilkinsburg, PA, a community just outside Pittsburgh, is attempting to address blight by creating a tour of vacant homes to increase their appeal by explaining their history, suggesting potential reuses, and offering workshops about vacant property acquisition and property rehabilitation.
“We get a lot of complaints from residents…they want to know how they could go about acquiring the vacant home next door, or if it can be demolished, or what is available for people to deal with vacancy and blight in their neighborhood,” said Marlee Gallagher, co-coordinator of the tour.
High school students in Peoria, IL are painting boards to cover windows and doors of homes slated for demolition later in the year. Like many communities in West Virginia, Peoria has its share of problem neighborhoods, and the boarded-up homes add to the impact of blight. This project serves to brighten up communities and also engages students with the city’s efforts.
“We hope that the artwork will add some community pride to the neighborhood.”
In case you missed last Wednesday’s informative webinar on acquiring funding for blight removal through the Affordable Housing Program, you can find a recording of it and download slides at the Redevelopment Expert Exchange website (click here).
Learn How your Community Can Alleviate Blight while Creating Affordable Housing in Your Community. AHP Opens June 6 with Approximately $23 Million in Funding. The 2016 funding round of the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) will open on Monday, June 6, with approximately $23 million in available funding.
Laura Rye presented past successful projects and discussed key scoring and feasibility issues. 2016 AHP applications are due on Thursday, Aug. 11. The awarded projects will be announced on Thursday, Dec. 15. Early application planning will help your application be more competitive for funding.