ALBANY COUNTY — Albany has been selected as one of three 2017 scholarship recipients in the Center for Community Progress’ national Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP). Technical assistance delivered through the scholarship program will strengthen the partnership between the Albany County Land Bank and the Albany Community Land Trust.
Through TASP, the national nonprofit Center for Community Progress helps communities break new ground in their efforts to address property vacancy, abandonment, and deterioration. The Center for Community Progress then shares best practices developed through TASP with its national audience. The two other 2017 scholarship recipients are Huntington, West Virginia, and Memphis, Tennessee.
“We look forward to collaborating with national experts and our local partners to develop innovative approaches to reclaiming vacant properties and increasing affordable housing opportunities,” said Adam Zaranko, executive director of the Albany County Land Bank Corporation. “With this assistance we hope to develop and implement ideas that will help communities across Albany County as well as those facing similar challenges throughout New York state and the nation.”
While land banks and community land trusts are each critical tools to address vacancy and abandonment around the country, their efforts have rarely intersected, explained the Center for Community Progress. The partnership between the Albany County Land Bank and the Albany Community Land Trust could demonstrate how, by working together on tangible projects, land banks and community land trusts can strengthen each other’s efforts in support of improved community outcomes.
“The Albany Community Land Trust looks forward to strengthening our partnership with the Albany County Land Bank to rebuild our neighborhoods, said Valerie Roberts, president of the Albany Community Land Trust Board. “The technical assistance from the Center for Community Progress will help ensure that we redevelop communities without displacing current residents.”
Through TASP, recipient communities will receive up to 400 hours of assistance from a team of national experts over eight months between April and November. Assistance may include a diagnosis of the most pressing problems, evaluation of current systems and strategies, and recommendations on solutions that involve key government decision-makers, residents, and other stakeholders.
“Albany, Huntington, and Memphis have each demonstrated a commitment to strengthening their revitalization work to benefit local residents,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “We are excited to work in each of these places to pioneer strategies that will not only help these communities, but also other places that will learn from these efforts.”
“Communities across New York continue to face the fallout of the housing crisis. We’re committed to helping them recover and thrive,” said state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I’m proud to partner with organizations like the Albany County Land Bank to build on our work rehabilitating abandoned properties – breathing new life into our neighborhoods, and creating safe and stable environments for families and future generations of New Yorkers.”
“This honor from the Center for Community Progress highlights the good work done by the Land Bank and its progress toward renewing our community,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “It also confirms that our investment in the Land Bank is bringing returns for potential home buyers and the taxpayers.”
Albany and the other recipients were chosen through a competitive process, which included a written application round followed by an in-person site assessment for five finalists. Proposed projects are reviewed on a range of criteria, including the potential for innovation from which other cities can learn, demonstrated leadership to implement reform, overall scale of vacancy challenges, and need for outside assistance. Funding from JPMorgan Chase provides the program’s support.
“Addressing blight is one of the most impactful ways to improve neighborhoods and local economies,” said Janis Bowdler, head of Community Development at JPMorgan Chase. “By arming city leadership with technical assistance through the Center for Community Progress, we are giving them the tools they need to drive inclusive economic growth in a highly tactical and productive way.”