Michigan Authorized to use $100 million of TARP Funds to Fight Blight

Federal treasury officials have recently given the Michigan State Housing Development Authority the go ahead to use up to $100 million in unspent funds from the Hardest Hit Fund foreclosure prevention and mitigation program on demolitions.

Michigan is the first state to receive authorization to use the federally funded Hardest Hit outlays for demolition. In Michigan, about $94 million of the $500 million Hardest Hit Fund funds have been disbursed to struggling homeowners.

In Michigan, this funding could fund the removal of thousands of residential properties in Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Saginaw and Grand Rapids.

See the following Detroit Free Press article for more information.

Cleveland Land Bank Partners with Builder in Innovative Vacancy Solution

The housing crisis created vacancy issues in cities across the rust belt, and Cleveland was no exception. In order to address these issues, the Cuyahoga Land Bank recently partnered with the St. Clair Superior Development Corp. and Loft Home Builders Inc. to renovate vacant homes in Cleveland’s St. Clair Superior neighborhood.

The renovation model pioneered by Loft Home Builders Inc.costs only $10,000 to $15,000, a range only slightly higher than typical costs to demolish comparable vacant structures. This economical approach involves the creation of an open floor plan, which modernizes the space while simultaneously minimizing  material costs.

For more information about this cross-sector partnership to address vacancy, see the following Housingwire article.

What Other Communities Are Doing: City of Holland Vacant Property Ordinances

The City of Holland has instituted a proactive program for the monitoring, registration, and inspection of vacant structures. Owners of vacant or abandoned structures must register with the city’s Department of Community and Neighborhood Services within the 15 days following foreclosure or the receipt of notice from the city that the property has been deemed vacant. Owners of abandoned structures are subject to registration fees and monthly monitoring fees. In the event property owners fail to register their vacant structure or maintain the abandoned structure according to the guidelines set out in the vacant structure city ordinance, owners are subject to aggressive monetary penalties.

Take a look at Holland’s ordinance to learn more about how the city is protecting community property values and promoting neighborhood safety.

What Other Communities Are Doing: Newaygo County Community Services Center for Nonprofit Housing

73 Quarterline is more than just an address.  It was an abandoned home and an eyesore for the City of Newaygo. The city purchased the property from the county for the price of delinquent taxes, with demolition in mind as a likely option for removal of the blight.  The Center for Nonprofit Housing Homebuyer Program had previously invested federal, state and local funds into this pivotal downtown neighborhood through rehabilitation of 12 homes and demolition of two homes within a five block vicinity. When 73 Quarterline became available, CNH saw the potential to redeem this home as an asset for the neighborhood.  After purchasing the property, CNH staff filled a 20-yard dumpster with debris left behind to make way for the contractors. Major renovations of this structure transformed it into a beautiful, energy efficient and safe home ready to be filled with children’s laughter once again.

The impact of the CNH homebuyer program reaches far beyond the single family purchasing the home. Local contractors are employed to complete the work, the city benefits from increased tax revenue, local lenders and title companies profit from the purchase, and the community has fewer vacancies. Creating healthy neighborhoods is one aspect of developing vibrant communities, which CNH has been committed to this endeavour for the past 18 years.  Other CNH initiatives include rental rehab projects, blight elimination, transitional housing and creating neighborhood associations.

Apply for Redevelopment Ready Communities Status Today

The Redevelopment Ready Communities program is currently accepting applications from communities seeking to achieve redevelopment ready certification status. Selected communities will receive an in-depth assessment of redevelopment readiness, a report of findings and support for implementation of the recommended strategies needed to make the community more attractive for investment.

Evaluation for the program is based on the six RRC best practices (PDF). Certification is awarded once a community acts on advisory council recommendations to demonstrate all best practice components have been met. The RRC certification signals your community has worked hard to make reinvestment easy. Apply now to advertise to developers that your community is committed to minimizing approval hurdles and willing to use financial incentives available.

Completed applications including required materials are due by 5:00pm, February 8, 2013. Please review the application for further information. Any questions should be directed to RRC@michigan.org.

Kent County Land Bank Allowed to Move Forward

Kent County Circuit Judge George Buth recently ruled that the Kent County Land Bank Authority can move forward with the sale of properties. The sale of 47 properties has been blocked by liens filed by real estate speculators claiming the land bank denied them access to the county’s auction of tax foreclosed properties and prevented them from putting these properties to “productive use.”

The following article provides more information about the ruling.

Blight Elimination Strategies

The National Foreclosure Prevention and Neighborhood Stabilization Task Force, a cross-industry group of local and national organizations working to address the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on communities, recently published their recommendations concerning the monitoring of blight provisions (PDF) for National Attorneys General Mortgage Settlement Monitor Joseph Smith.

Though the letter of recommendations addresses specific provisions of the settlement, the recommendations broadly focus on the coordination of “efforts by localities, nonprofits, realtors, servicers, and others so that individual property-level efforts become neighborhood stabilization strategies.” The strategies outlined also take communities’ limited funds to address these problems into account, making this brief letter a great starting point for both stakeholders interested in developing good blight policy at a local level and advocates for quality state-level policy.

Michigan Vacant Property Campaign in the News

Check out the Detroit Free Press article Metro Detroit cities get aggressive about enforcing codes to fight blight, protect property values to learn how Michigan  communities are using code enforcement to address vacant properties issues. The article also gives a glimpse of the role the Michigan Vacant Property Campaign partners are playing in this progress.

Putting the Right in Right-Sizing: Guide Available For Cities in Need of Centralization

The Michigan Historic Preservation Network and National Trust for Historic Preservation have partnered to publish Putting the Right in Right-Sizing: A Historic Preservation Case Study (PDF). Though the case study is based on right-sizing efforts integrating historical preservation undertaken in Lansing and Saginaw, lessons learned should find wide application in any community considering right sizing. Resources found in the guide include a checklist for rightsizing cities and a land bank decision making flowchart, both of which offer guidance to incorporating historical preservation into downsizing efforts.

MVPC to Hold  Series of Regional Roundtables

The Michigan Vacant Property Campaign is hosting a series of regional roundtables across the state and is now accepting RSVPs for the final event in Flint. The roundtables which have already been held in Oak Park, Marquette, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Traverse City  have brought together community members, stakeholders and leaders across sectors, providing a forum to examine specific vacant property issues and priorities. These events have also provided an opportunity for participants to learn about the MVPC and the technical assistance services the campaign offers to support and enhance local efforts to address issues posed by vacant properties.

Flint Roundtable: December 4, 2-4 PM at Mott Community College Regional Technology Center Auditorium

Notice that the location of Flint roundtable has been changed to Mott Community College.

More Information

Whether you are a business owner or community resident, municipal representative or elected official, a member of a block club or neighborhood association, a part of a community development corporation or nonprofit organization, every community stakeholder is welcome. If you are interested in attending any of these events, please RSVP by sending an email to Claire Glenn at glenn@cedam.info.