Land Bank and Land Trust Leaders Express Support for Proposed $5 Billion to Revitalize Communities

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 4, 2021 — Today, the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress) and Grounded Solutions Network (Grounded Solutions) expressed their support of new legislation that would invest $5 billion in flexible federal funding for distressed communities nationwide. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

“Congresswomen Kaptur and Tlaib are championing critical change that will support some of our nation’s highest-need areas, both rural and metropolitan,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins, President and CEO of Community Progress. “The proposed Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is the type of flexible, impactful legislation that will help American communities respond to our diverse and growing revitalization needs.”

About the Proposed Restoring Communities Left Behind Act

The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act would authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to establish a $5 billion program, that would operate from fiscal years 2021 to 2031, to award competitive grants to eligible local partnerships for neighborhood revitalization activities.

The Act includes provisions for:

  • assistance to existing residents experiencing economic distress with homeowner rehabilitation assistance, weatherization, improved housing accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, housing counseling, refinancing, property tax relief and so much more;
  • the purchase and redevelopment of vacant, abandoned, or distressed properties to create opportunities for affordable rental housing, homeownership, shared equity homeownership, or commercial properties;
  • funding to improve parks, sidewalks, street lighting, and other neighborhood improvements that impact the quality of life in low-income neighborhoods;
  • establishment and operational support for community land trusts and land banks; and
  • additional revitalization support activities.

The full bill text for the legislation can be found online.

“We are so grateful to Congresswomen Kaptur and Tlaib for providing strong leadership to improve the places that need it the most, while advancing racial and economic equity based on the priorities local communities determine to be appropriate. For instance, residents and local partners can establish and expand community land trusts and other shared equity housing programs to create permanently affordable rental or homeownership opportunities on land held in trust by the community, said Tony Pickett, CEO of the Grounded Solutions Network.

“Congresswoman Kaptur and Congresswoman Tlaib truly understand that the enduring impacts of redlining need to be rectified. Her bill does just that by providing critical affordable housing and community investment to targeted disinvested neighborhoods.”

“Housing justice is economic justice and racial justice,” said Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib. “Communities across the country are suffering from government disinvestment and systemic racism. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is a major step in reversing decades of discriminatory policy.”

“In the last several decades, especially since the 2008 housing and financial crisis, many communities, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, have struggled with urban decay as jobs have moved overseas and economic well-being has collapsed,” said Rep. Kaptur. “Through it all, folks in these communities have tirelessly worked together to rebuild and breathe new life into our cities – Toledo and Detroit are perfect examples. Unfortunately, COVID-19 and the resulting economic fallout have made that important work more difficult and more important than ever before.”

The Act is also supported by a wide array of leaders, law makers, and advocates in housing and community development, including LISC, the National Community Stabilization Trust, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, and the Detroit People’s Platform.

“Our neighborhoods have been challenged for decades with job loss, housing disinvestment, and racial inequity,” said David Mann, President & CEO of the Lucas County Land Bank. “The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act will change that by dedicating flexible federal funding to solutions designed by local communities to meet crucial local needs.”

The Act’s original House cosponsors include Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Mark Takano (D-CA), André Carson (D-IN), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Chuy Garcia (D-IL), Andy Levin (D-MI), James McGovern (D-MA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Joyce Beatty (D-OH), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Cori Bush (MO), Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (D-GU), and Fred Upton (R-MI).

More Support for Revitalizing Neighborhoods and Putting Vacant Properties Back to Productive Use

Since 2010, Community Progress and Grounded Solutions have, individually and in-partnership, served more than 1,000 communities in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in their fight to prevent vacancy and create more permanent affordable housing.

The introduction of the proposed Restoring Communities Left Behind Act follows efforts from both organizations to create more assistance for homeowners and communities fighting property vacancy through initiatives that recently include:

“So many communities have struggled for too long to recover from the Great Recession, broken markets, decades of disinvestment, and generations of racial inequity,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins, President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress.

“These same neighborhoods now face the compounding health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Restoring Communities Left Behind Act is a bold, powerful proposal to equip neighborhood residents and leaders around the country with desperately needed funding and tools to not only weather the current crises, but to build back better.”

For interviews or more information on Community Progress or Grounded Solutions, email media@communityprogress.org or call (877) 542-4842.

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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 communityprogress.org.

About Grounded Solutions Network

A national nonprofit membership organization, Grounded Solutions Network supports shared equity housing programs with capacity-building resources, inclusive housing policy development, strategic planning, peer learning, technical assistance, training, and programmatic support. Members now include over 200 nonprofit organizations and public agencies throughout the country. Learn more at groundedsolutions.org.