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Leadership, Funding and Engagement

Vacant lot image via Flickr Creative Commons

Michigan is usually considered the cradle of the U.S. land banking movement, and with good reason: the success of the Genesee County Land Bank in the early 2000s spurred the modern boom in municipal land banks. The Center for Community Progress, which works nationwide to improve local government and nonprofit capacity to deal with vacant and abandoned properties is headquartered in Flint.

New York State followed Michigan’s model in 2011, passing legislation enabling land banks. Eight initial land banks soon followed.  In a post on the Community Progress Blog, Tarik Abdelazim, former Deputy Mayor of Binghamton, New York, reflects on the early days of New York’s land banks and offers some words of wisdom for land bank practitioners and advocates in any state.

Abdelazim links to a recent report from the New York Land Bank Association that documents the growth of the sector in New York, from its early days to significant successes, including nearly 2,000 problem properties acquired and $28.4 million in assessed value returned to the tax rolls.

The author, now on the staff of the Center for Community Progress, also offers some “key takeaways” from his years working with land banks in New York:

  • Strong leadership is critical for success, both within the land banks themselves and among those with decision making power at both the local and state levels;
  • Land banks need reliable, consistent funding in order to operate effectively and at scale;
  • Land banks are part of the overall strategy, not the only strategy, and must work in concert with other local and state programs and policies; and
  • Ongoing education and engagement with the community about the importance of the work is an essential and long-term task.

Read Tarik Abdelazim’s blog post, Five years in, New York’s land bank movement offers lessons for national field  

Posted in Affordable Housing

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