NEW REPORT: Land banks’ adaptability yields results for communities tackling vacant and problem properties

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Take it to the Bank Cover

An estimated 120 land banks exist in the United States, and at least half of them were created between 2008 and today.

In light of that rapid growth, our latest report, Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods, explores the state of land banking in the U.S. in 2014. Download the report to find:

– Insights into what makes a land bank successful
– A national scan of land banks in the United States, exploring seven of their most striking commonalities, based on research of 67 land banks
– In-depth portraits of seven diverse land banks from Georgia, Michigan, New York, and Ohio
A rich array of appendices to learn from, including land bank policies and procedures, property and program applications, and budgets 

The report, based on research of 67 land banks conducted from 2013 to 2014, finds that land banks’ ability to adapt to local conditions and needs is helping communities, large and small, address the negative impacts of problem properties.

“What we found confirms that land banks are not one-size-fits-all,” said Kim Graziani, vice president and director of national technical assistance at the Center for Community Progress, who oversaw the research.

The report further finds that local factors, such as the scale of vacancy and abandonment, influence nearly all aspects of a land bank’s operations. Land banks vary in staff size and structure, the number of properties each takes on (ranging from a handful to tens of thousands), and the strategies for maintaining those properties and returning them to productive use.

It also draws on research to lay out key characteristics of effective land banking, which include:

– Strategic links to the tax collection and foreclosure process
– Operations scaled in response to local land use goals 
– Policy-driven, transparent, and publicly accountable transactions 
– Engagement with residents and other community stakeholders 
– Alignment with other local or regional tools and community programs

Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods includes a national scan of land banking in the United States and seven in-depth portraits of the following land banks:

– Genesee County Land Bank Authority (Michigan)
– Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation (Ohio)
– Greater Syracuse Land Bank (New York)
– Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank Authority (Georgia)
– Macon-Bibb County Land Bank Authority (Georgia)
– Marquette County Land Bank Authority (Michigan)
– Chautauqua County Land Bank Authority (New York)

Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods is a deep look at land banking in the U.S. in 2014,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “It showcases what’s happening, and what works, at a critical time: the number of land banks is increasing quickly, and their leaders are working hard to deliver results for communities still struggling in the wake of the Great Recession.”

Download a PDF of the report
Preorder a hard copy ($10)
View the news release

Here on our blog, we’ll be sharing bonus content over the next several weeks that dives even deeper into some of the most innovative — and replicable — programs featured in the report.

Join the conversation on Twitter using #tothebank, or in our Vacant and Problem Properties Innovators LinkedIn Group.