Chicago selected to tackle vacant properties at Vacant Property Leadership Institute

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot says Chicago is one of 12 cities across four states that have been selected to send a delegation to the 2022 Vacant Property Leadership Institute (VPLI), a training program focused on equipping leaders with the skills to address vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties for the benefit of their communities.

Made possible through the support of the Wells Fargo Foundation, VPLI is a joint initiative of the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress) and National League of Cities (NLC).

“The storefronts and properties left vacant and abandoned here in Chicago have become the physical embodiments of the economic fallout of the pandemic,” Chicago Mayor Lightfoot said in a statement. “However, through the Vacant Property Leadership Institute, our community leaders will receive the skills necessary to turn these properties around in ways that will instead revitalize and strengthen our neighborhoods. The City of Chicago is proud to be one of twelve cities selected to participate in this invaluable program, which will allow us to take a huge step forward in our mission of reinvigorating our business corridors and the communities they serve.”

Delegations from each of the following cities will participate: College Park, GA; Perry, GA; South Fulton, GA; Chicago, IL; Decatur, IL; Kankakee, IL; Peoria, IL; Rockford, IL; Louisville, KY; Winchester, KY; Milwaukee, WI; Racine, WI. Cities were selected through a competitive, two-round application process.

Chicago recently formed an interdepartmental working group that incorporates all the departments in the city that have equities in relation to vacant lots. This group includes Streets and Sanitation, Planning and Development, Transportation, Public Health, Public Safety, Assets and Information Services, and many others. The Leadership Institute will enable us to continue the work of bringing together all the players that each own a part of this system to fully and comprehensively identify barriers and break them down.

The selected cities include rural, suburban, and urban communities and range in population from just over 14,000 to over 2.7 million. They also face similar challenges such as faulty mortgage foreclosure processes, tax delinquency, ineffective property maintenance systems, and other property issues. Chicago was selected for VPLI because it demonstrates strong leadership, is committed to developing new solutions, and represents a unique opportunity to shift the systems responsible for vacant, abandoned, and other problem properties.

VPLI sessions will address how to operationalize equitable development practices to remedy vacancy, abandonment, and deterioration (VAD) and return buildings and land to productive use. Some of the strategies to be explored include data and market analysis, delinquent tax enforcement reform, strategic code enforcement, land banking, and more.

The Vacant Property Leadership institute combines Community Progress’ leading national expertise in helping communities develop efficient, effective, and equitable solutions to vacancy and abandonment with NLC’s longstanding history serving the interests of 19,000 cities, towns and villages in the US to build strong communities by expanding capacity, providing in-depth research and tools, and developing and implementing on-the-ground solutions.

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