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Three Cities Selected for 2016 Vacant Properties Technical Assistance Scholarships (Press Release)

March 8, 2016

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News Release (PDF)
National Technical Assistance
Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP)

Baltimore, High Point, Rockford will receive guidance from Center for Community Progress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Baltimore, Maryland; High Point, North Carolina; and Rockford, Illinois, are the latest recipients of the Center for Community Progress’ Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP). Through TASP, the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress), a national nonprofit, will help these local governments and other stakeholders break new ground in their efforts to address property vacancy, abandonment and tax delinquency.

The three recipients were chosen through a competitive application process. Proposed projects are reviewed on a range of criteria, including the potential for innovation from which other cities can learn, demonstrated leadership to implement reform, overall scale of vacancy challenges and need for outside assistance.

“We couldn’t be more excited to begin work in Baltimore, High Point and Rockford,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “Each of these places demonstrates that they are willing and ready to pioneer new approaches to vacancy that other cities can learn from. We see huge potential for positive reforms that will benefit community residents.”

Each city will receive assistance from a team of national experts over six months between March 2016 and September 2016. Assistance may include a diagnosis of the most pressing problems, evaluation of current systems and strategies, and recommendations on solutions that involve key City decision-makers, residents and other stakeholders. Grant funding from JPMorgan Chase provides the majority of the program’s support.

“JPMorgan Chase is pleased to support the Center for Community Progress as they provide advice and assistance to local leaders addressing blight in cities across the U.S.,” said Janis Bowdler, head of Community Development Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase Foundation. “By taking an innovative and customized approach these leaders are better positioned to stabilize and revitalize their neighborhoods and, as a result, expand access to opportunity and inclusive growth for those living within them.”


In Baltimore, technical assistance will work to improve the City’s tax sale system, which local leaders have identified as contributing to the ongoing cycle of property vacancy in Baltimore. The project’s ultimate goal is to create a system that supports the collection of revenue, protects the most vulnerable citizens, and returns vacant properties to productive reuse. The primary local partners on the TASP project are the City Finance Department and the Tax Sale Work Group, founded by Community Law Center, NHS of Baltimore and Baltimore Homeownership Preservation Coalition.

“As Mayor of the City of Baltimore, I am proud of the collaboration between my agencies and our nonprofit partners to team together to be selected by the Center for Community Progress to receive technical assistance regarding the City’s Tax Sale process,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “We look forward to learning about national best practices that can be implemented in our City to improve/reform the tax sale process. We are looking for innovative solutions to protect our financially fragile and elderly citizens that have been in their homes for decades. Our goal is to collect revenue, protect the most vulnerable citizens and return vacant properties to productive use.”


In High Point, technical assistance will help to expand and improve the City’s code enforcement system in core city neighborhoods and develop comprehensive strategies to address non-housing needs of the residents of homes with code violations. The primary local partners on the TASP project are the Assistant City Manager and staff from the Community Development and Housing Department, with strong support from a consortium of neighborhood and philanthropic stakeholders.

“The City of High Point is excited to receive this award for technical assistance and have the opportunity to work with the Center for Community Progress to improve our local code enforcement efforts and bring transformative change to distressed Core City neighborhoods,” said Mayor Bill Bencini. “Coupled with the addition of staff resources, this program will help us as we work with our partners to make our community cleaner and safer.”


In Rockford, technical assistance will focus on developing an early alert system to identify the warning signs of potential vacancy and abandonment. This project will also emphasize the need to better coordinate ongoing blight remediation efforts among various City departments, lenders, nonprofits and residents, while also supporting current owner-occupants and tenants in order to prevent further neighborhood decline. The primary local partners on the TASP project are the Community and Economic Development Department and a consortium of social service agencies and neighborhood stakeholders.

“The City of Rockford has suffered ongoing challenges due to the fallout of the Great Recession and the housing foreclosure crisis,” said Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey. “This Technical Assistance scholarship will help us respond to these challenges applying national best practices to support the City and all of our local partners.”

Since its founding in 2010, the Center for Community Progress has provided technical assistance to more than 200 communities across 30 states. Community Progress launched TASP in early 2014 in response to two needs: first, the need to develop fresh approaches to problem properties that could become models for cities to replicate, and second, the need to provide individual cities with affordable, high-quality guidance in the fight to remediate blighted, vacant properties.

This is the fourth round of the Technical Assistance Scholarship Program. Prior recipients are: Atlanta, Georgia; Butte-Silver Bow, Montana; Lafayette, Louisiana; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; Trenton, New Jersey; Cleveland, Ohio; Lucas County, Ohio; and St. Louis, Missouri.

More information about the Technical Assistance Scholarship Program is available on the Center for Community Progress website.

About Center for Community Progress

Founded in 2010, the Center for Community Progress is the only national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization solely dedicated to building a future in which entrenched, systemic blight no longer exists in American communities. The mission of Community Progress is to ensure that communities have the vision, knowledge, and systems to transform blighted, vacant, and other problem properties into assets supporting neighborhood vitality. As a national leader on solutions for blight and vacancy, Community Progress serves as the leading resource for local, state and federal policies and best practices that address the full cycle of property revitalization, from blight prevention, through the acquisition and maintenance of problem properties, to their productive reuse.

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