From the Center for Community Progress:

REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR OCTOBER’S RECLAIMING VACANT PROPERTIES CONFERENCE IN CLEVELAND!

Community Progress is pleased this year to partner with Neighborhood Progress, Inc. to bring you Reclaiming Vacant Properties: the Intersection of Sustainability, Revitalization, and Policy Reform. Join with us, and hundreds of your peers from communities across the country, to learn about the policies, tools, and strategies to catalyze long-term, sustainable revitalization. Share your experiences and insights, and become a part of the only national network focused on building the knowledge, leadership, and momentum to reclaim vacant and abandoned properties to foster thriving neighborhoods.

This engaging conference offers you three days of opportunities to build the skills and relationships to transform your communities:

  • Pre-conference training seminars on key strategies, including land banking, re-imagining older industrial cities, data and research, selling houses in weak markets, and taking nuisance abatement to scale.
  • Mobile workshops showcasing some of Cleveland’s successes, including adaptive reuse, community visioning, and legal tools in Slavic Village, historic preservation and brownfield revitalization in Detroit Shoreway, urban agriculture and green building throughout the city, and transit oriented development along the Euclid Corridor.
  • 35 interactive breakout sessions covering the full range of issues related to revitalization, including assessing tax incentives, accessing REOs and other foreclosure innovations, state and federal policy, temporary uses on vacant land, creative financing, decision making for site reuse, municipal code enforcement, and much more.
  • Plenaries highlighting innovative leadership and a keynote by Alex Kotlowitz (award-winning journalist and best-selling author.)
  • Networking opportunities allowing you time to exchange ideas with and get to know peers.
  • A new Poster Session designed so you can talk directly with even more experts.

We look forward to seeing you in October for this unique conference! Visit the conference web site to download the program and register.

A few additional notes about the conference:

  • One more opportunity to present: There is still an opportunity to participate as a presenter through the Poster Session. The Poster Session will offer conference participants one more way to hear about interesting case studies, research efforts, or projects. Proposals are due July 15th so don’t delay. If you already submitted an idea for a poster through the program RFP, you do not need to resubmit. Visit the program page on the web site to find out the details.
  • Scholarships: We hope to be able to post the application for registration scholarships soon. A limited number of scholarships will be available to nonprofit, public sector, or grassroots individuals. Watch for an update soon.

In addition to being eyesores, vacant and abandoned properties also threaten public safety. These properties can become breeding grounds for criminal activity and arson, placing strain on the city’s resources and police and fire departments – as evidenced by these recent news stories from Detroit:

  • Early Morning Arson Claims Vacant Properties
    Arson investigators are continuing their investigation of eight fires set early last Tuesday morning, all of which were vacant buildings.

  • Police Officer Killed in Shootout at Vacant Duplex
    Earlier this month, one officer was killed and four others wounded while responding to a report of gunshots at a vacant property. According to neighbors, drugs were being sold out of the building.

  • City Leaders Plan Demolitions to Cut Crime
    Buoyed by the police shootings, the Detroit City Council is working with Mayor David Bing to expedite a new city ordinance to hold property owners more accountable for their properties. The Mayor’s office is also using data to examine the correlation between crime and vacancies, which will inform the demolition of 3,000 rundown homes this year that will “cut crime and improve quality of life.”

When structures no longer serve a human purpose, it appears that nature retakes control. In Detroit, one resident has begun documenting so-called “feral houses,” where trees and other plant life have taken over former houses.

See the set of Feral House photos from flickr user Sweet Juniper, and read the related blog post.