Tackling Vacancy and Abandonment Strategies and Impacts after the Great Recession
Author(s): Center for Community Progress
In 2014, Community Progress was retained by the Delaware Department of Justice to conduct an assessment of the underlying issues and systems related to vacancy and abandonment in the City of Wilmington, Delaware, with a focus on code enforcement, vacant property registration, delinquent tax enforcement, and land banking. With a sizable inventory of more than 1,500 vacant properties and facing challenges that seem to outpace limited resources, the City’s approach to vacancy and abandonment must be multi-faceted, coordinated, and supported by a wide coalition of partners
We provided observations and recommendations for the City and other local stakeholders to consider to better prevent, acquire, maintain and transfer vacant and abandoned properties to responsible ownership. Our recommendations fell into three categories:
1. Reforms to operations and policies that aim to prioritize and improve collaboration, data-sharing, efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness within City Hall.
2. Improvements to the code enforcement system, vacant property registration program, and tax enforcement system to result in a more effective, efficient and equitable system to enforce building and housing codes, recover costs associated with enforcement and abatement, and where necessary, force a change in ownership to a more responsible party.
3. Creation of a new public entity, a land bank, whose focus will be the acquisition, management and disposition of vacant and abandoned properties as well as to work in partnership with the other systems integral to addressing these properties.
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