Dallas, Detroit, Gary and Trenton awarded technical assistance scholarships

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Community Progress launched the competitive Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP) in 2014, to help us find and support today’s pioneers in the work to reclaim and revitalize problem properties. TASP seeks out “changemakers” who are improving the field of practice, and it helps those leaders effect positive change on the ground. Today, we’re pleased to announce the four communities chosen as recipients of the second round of TASP: Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; and Trenton, New Jersey.

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Dallas, Detroit, Gary and Trenton were chosen based 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 teams in Dallas, Detroit, Gary and Trenton all 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 for these new partnerships to get underway.”

Each city will receive assistance from a team of national experts. 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.” More information is below:

Dallas, Texas

Credit Robert Hensley via Flickr

Credit Robert Hensley via Flickr

In Dallas, Community Progress’ work will focus primarily on evaluating existing local and state policies related to code enforcement. Based on its findings, the organization will offer recommendations for policy changes or strategies to help city government more effectively implement existing policies to prevent property deterioration and abandonment.

“Over the past year, the City of Dallas has aggressively pushed the development of inter-departmental strategies for tackling vacancies and the abandonment of properties. This effort also allows the City to partner more strategically with non-governmental entities working to reduce blight and improve quality of life in our neighborhoods,” said Kris Sweckard, director of the Dallas Department of Code Compliance. “The timing of the Center for Community Progress Technical Assistance Scholarship Program is perfect. It provides us with additional tools and strategies, primarily based upon data and policies, to help us reach our objectives.”

Detroit, Michigan

Credit Ian Freimuth via Flickr

Credit Ian Freimuth via Flickr

In Detroit, work will focus on assisting Detroit Future City (DFC) and other stakeholders, including the City of Detroit, 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.”

Gary, Indiana

Credit Samuel A. Love via Flickr

Credit Samuel A. Love via Flickr

In Gary, the focus is on data and how it can be used to inform policy and practice. Community Progress will examine, at a systems level, how property and other neighborhood-related data are being gathered. The organization will offer recommendations to the City’s Department of Redevelopment on how to improve data collection and how to use data to inform blight elimination and neighborhood stabilization strategies.

“The City of Gary’s designation as a TASP recipient is huge for us because it coincides with the many efforts we are currently employing to eliminate blight in our community,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “The technical assistance that will be provided allows us to be more strategic with our initiatives and make visible impacts one neighborhood at a time.”

Trenton, New Jersey

Credit Blake Bolinger via Flickr

Credit Blake Bolinger via Flickr

In Trenton, Community Progress will also provide technical assistance related to data and information systems. The organization will advise the city on how to more efficiently and effectively collect and share property data across city departments and recommend strategies for targeting efforts like code enforcement to promote neighborhood stabilization.

“The City of Trenton, in partnership with Isles, is honored to have been selected by the Center for Community Progress as a recipient of one of their technical assistance scholarships,” said Mayor Eric E. Jackson. “We are thrilled that our vacant property strategy and approach was recognized as innovative and noteworthy. And we look forward to working with the Center on taking the necessary next steps toward integrating our vacant property data across city departments, prioritizing the Inspections Department, and recommending how to target code enforcement efforts and other strategies.”