Strengthening the Houston Land Bank

New Legislative Authority to Support Expanded Neighborhood Priorities and Resiliency in Houston

Author(s): Center for Community Progress

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the City of Houston, Texas and its partners across the region are commended for their willingness to reimagine and rebuild Houston into a stronger, more inclusive and resilient city in which no neighborhood or resident is left behind. Despite these efforts, the impact of decades of disinvestment continues to steadily erode the fabric of Houston neighborhoods, and the need to ensure an equitable and sustainable recovery is immediate and critical.

In 2018, the Houston Land Bank retained the Center for Community Progress to help better position the land bank as an efficient, effective, and equitable partner in local efforts to stabilize and revitalize Houston neighborhoods. The focus was to help identify and develop new legislative and policy tools that would allow the Houston Land Bank to more flexibly address the needs and priorities for land throughout Houston, particularly in neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Harvey as well as decades of disinvestment.

By early 2018, Community Progress and the Houston Land Bank agreed to the framework of a multi-stage engagement that included:
1. Developing legislative strategies to equip the Houston Land Bank with sufficient legal authority to efficiently and equitably acquire and dispose of vacant, abandoned properties,
2. Providing technical assistance to improve land bank policies, governance, and operations, and
3. Brainstorming opportunities for the Land Bank to partner with community land trusts.

The purpose of this report is to share the results of this research with Houston stakeholders as well as the national field of practice. In particular, this report is useful for communities seeking to identify and approach the development of new legislative tools to address vacancy and abandonment caused or exacerbated by disinvestment and natural disaster

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

Published: June 2019

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