New Program to Prepare Richmond to Tackle Blight


Richmond will soon have a new set of artillery to take on its blighted properties and vacant lots. 

One of nine cities across the U.S. invited to participate in the Leadership Institute, a program of the national Center for Community Progress, Richmond will send a delegation of six people from within the City to Harvard Law School in mid-March to learn technical and leadership skills that will help them tackle blight and vacancy issues.   

“The City of Richmond has been battling the vacant, foreclosed and zombie property crisis for over seven years,” Mayor Tom Butt said in a statement. 

“While we have implemented some progressive initiatives to address Richmond’s blight issues, we will take the opportunity to bring new best practices from the Leadership Institute that will strengthen our collaborations to more effectively address our distressed, foreclosed, and abandoned property crisis.”

All participating cities must have vacancy rates 8% or higher.

Various sessions of the program will tackle issues ranging from how to spur community engagement, to overcoming legal barriers to revitalization. 

Richmond was selected for the program because of its proven dedication to tackling blight.

“The diversity of the cities chosen for this year’s Leadership Institute reflect the fact that communities across the country continue to feel the fallout from the mortgage foreclosure crisis,” Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress, said in a statement. “By attending the Leadership Institute, however, these delegations commit to tackling the challenges of vacancy and abandonment head on, to help ensure that the housing recovery reaches every neighborhood.”

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