An Assessment of Land Banking and other Tools to Transform VAD Properties into Affordable Housing in Prince George’s County, Maryland

A Community Progress Technical Assistance Report

Author(s): Center for Community Progress

Prince George’s County is in a prime position to better utilize and coordinate existing tools to address vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent (VAT) properties in a more equitable, effective, and efficient manner, and continue exploring how a land bank could also be leveraged to support local affordable housing goals enumerated in Housing Opportunity for All (HOFA). A key recommendation in HOFA was the creation of a land bank as a potential tool to support the redevelopment of vacant and abandoned residential properties throughout Prince George’s County. Therefore, leadership of the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) invited Community Progress to assess how the County can better address the inventory of vacant and abandoned properties to support the affordable housing goals identified in HOFA using existing tools as well as potential new tools like a land bank. Properties that were tax delinquent were also included in the assessment given the nonpayment of property taxes is usually a clear warning that a property is going into decline.

The existing legal tools that are the primary focus of this report are housing and building code enforcement (code enforcement) and delinquent property tax enforcement. Without maximizing and coordinating these existing tools in Prince George’s County, a new tool like a land bank will not only be ineffective but will likely become overwhelmed with a large inventory of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent (VAT) properties since there are no measures in place to prevent properties from going into decline.

Key takeaways from our assessment are:

  • Leadership: It will take continued leadership from all levels of County government to create and prioritize a more comprehensive, collaborative, and transparent approach to VAT properties.
  • Data: There is an opportunity to improve the collection of and centralize the current management of County data to get a better understanding of the inventory of VAT properties and prioritize which properties might be better addressed by a potential land bank.
  • Toolbox: The County has a decent set of legal tools available in state law, however, a land bank will only be effective if there is better coordination of existing tools like code enforcement and delinquent property tax enforcement, and implementation of new tools available in state law but not yet adopted by the County to bypass the harmful practice of selling delinquent property taxes (via tax certificates) to private investors and losing control of the VAT property and preventing further harm to the community.
  • Engagement with Municipalities: It will be critical to continue engaging and building relationships with the municipalities and residents within Prince George’s County that are most impacted by VAT properties and facing increasing affordable housing and displacement challenges.
  • Partnerships: The County can maximize its affordable housing objectives by expanding partnerships with the nonprofit and affordable housing community developers and creating an inexpensive and accessible pipeline of property.

Madison Gharghoury, Development Associate and Special Assistant to the President/CEO

Published: August 2021

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