Home » Press Releases » New National Program to Help Local Governments Tackle Vacant Property Challenges in Support of Safer, Inclusive Communities Impacted by the COVID-19 Crisis

New National Program to Help Local Governments Tackle Vacant Property Challenges in Support of Safer, Inclusive Communities Impacted by the COVID-19 Crisis

February 3, 2021

Painting the Wall

Center for Community Progress and the National League of Cities accepting Letters of Interest for Free Educational Programming and Customized Technical Assistance

WASHINGTON, D.C. – January 27, 2021 – Today, the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress) and the National League of Cities (NLC) announced that a new Vacant Property Leadership Institute (Leadership Institute), is accepting letters of interest from local governments for free education and technical assistance at .

The Leadership Institute, a national initiative to identify, equip, and support a network of local leaders, will focus on developing local revitalization strategies and policy frameworks to support equity and resilience for communities impacted by property vacancy, COVID-19 and historic racial injustice.

“Today, local governments are faced with significant budget and equity challenges while still grappling with the immediate health, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19” said Dr. Akilah Watkins-Butler, CEO and President of Community Progress. “We are excited to partner with NLC on the Leadership Institute to offer free educational programming and tailored technical assistance to communities as they work to understand the challenges ahead and prepare for the long road to recovery.”

About the Vacant Property Leadership Institute

Like the Great Recession, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted millions of Americans and in its wake, highlighted the growing need for equitable revitalization strategies. The Leadership Institute aims to support decision-making that will protect residents and hard-earned local success from the threats of residential and commercial vacancy, property deterioration, housing insecurity, falling home values and related challenges and instability.

The 2021 Leadership Institute combines four days of intense training, network development within and across cities, and up to 100-hours of customized technical assistance to help local decision-makers tackle the challenges of vacancy, abandonment, and deterioration facing their communities.

The Leadership Institute will engage up to three cities, towns, or villages from up to three states.

“NLC is excited to partner with the Center for Community Progress on the upcoming 2021 Vacant Property Leadership Institute,” said Clarence Anthony, CEO and Executive Director, NLC.

“By working together, NLC and the Center for Community Progress will bring equitable and innovative solutions to cities, towns and villages to support municipal leaders as they address issues like vacancy, abandonment and deterioration in their community. There is no better time for us to assist communities in developing  transformative and equitable recovery strategies.”

Letters of Interest – Submission Deadline: February 26, 2021

Interested cities, towns, and other municipalities can review requirements and submit a Letter of Interest by February 26, 2021 at

Community Progress and NLC will evaluate each Letter of Interest based on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated Need: A significant challenge with vacant, abandoned, tax delinquent, and/or other problem properties exists, and addressing underlying systems is necessary;
  • Commitment to Addressing Problem Properties: Solving these challenges is a priority for the highest level of local government leaders and decision-makers;
  • Commitment to Equitable Community Development: Recognizing the role institutional racism and oppressive systems play in creating problem properties and committing to equitable and just solutions;
  • Interest in a Multi-Stakeholder Format: Engaging a multi-stakeholder team can clearly help overcome the city’s challenges related to problem properties; and
  • Open Minds: An interest in exploring new ideas and willingness to be challenged about how one’s own City and State address problem properties, and how one exercises leadership.

“Local leaders who work to revitalize neighborhoods have repeatedly expressed the need for more support, especially in matters related to equity. That call is consistent from leaders who work in programs, policy, and in the decision-making processes. The Leadership Institute is an important effort to help close those need gaps,” said Courtney Knox, Vice President and Director of National Leadership and Education for Community Progress. “Our support through the Leadership Institute is to help local leaders who continually put residents first while tackling these existing challenges and the new hurdles presented by COVID-19.”

The Vacant Property Leadership Institute is made possible by grant funding from the Wells Fargo Foundation. This grant is part of the Wells Fargo Foundation’s efforts to keep more than 200,000 people affected by COVID-19 housed with grants to nonprofit housing organizations across the U.S. Overall, the Wells Fargo Foundation has donated over $225 million to assist people and communities affected by COVID-19.

For more information on the program or neighborhood revitalization, contact [email protected] or call (877) 542-4842 ext. 153.


About the Center for Community Progress

Founded in 2010, the Center for Community Progress is the national leader for building strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Today, Community Progress has affected change in more than 48 states and seven countries through leadership education and collaborative systems, policy, and practice reforms. Simply, we work to transform “Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places.” For more information, visit

About the National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns, and villages, representing more than 200 million people. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy, and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram.

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