News Release

Lafayette named Vacant Properties Technical Assistance Scholarship Recipient
Posted: 5/19/2014 2:00 PM
 

​Lafayette Consolidated Government joins the local governments of Atlanta, Georgia and Butte-Silver Bow, Montana as the inaugural recipients of the Center for Community Progress’ new, blight-fighting Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP). Through TASP, the Center for Community Progress, a national nonprofit, will help these cities develop new strategies to address property blight, vacancy and abandonment.

Atlanta, Butte-Silver Bow, and Lafayette were chosen through a competitive Request for Applications (RFA) process. Through the application process, each city requested assistance in one or more of TASP’s key issue areas, which include topics such as tax collection and enforcement reform, data and information systems, and vacant land maintenance and reuse strategies.

Each city will receive up to 200 hours of reduced-cost assistance from a team of experts. Technical assistance will take place throughout the remainder of 2014 and may include, for example, staff training sessions, property data analysis, or tailored reports with recommended changes.

In Lafayette, the focus of the grant is on data. “Good data systems are really the crux of effective vacant property work, from understanding the problem to choosing the right response,” Tamar Shapiro, President and CEO of the Center for Community Progress said.


Lafayette is interested in developing a unified geographic information system (GIS)-based property and market database, making it easy to understand what is happening on the ground, at the parcel level, all across the city. Community Progress will assess the Lafayette Consolidated Government’s current property data tracking processes and identify opportunities for improvement.

“Lafayette is thankful and excited to be a recipient of a Technical Assistance Scholarship from the Center for Community Progress,” said Kevin Blanchard, Chief Development Officer of Lafayette Consolidated Government. “Our comprehensive plan calls for a renewed effort to deal with problem, blighted, and adjudicated properties. This puts us on the right path towards resolving a problem that is holding our neighborhoods back.”

City-Parish Council Vice-Chair Kenneth P. Boudreaux, District 4 issued this statement in support of the grant: “I commend the efforts of LCG Planning Department and The CDO. As a representative of a community which is greatly impacted by these properties, I remain encouraged that we will one day see growth, development and the re-institution of commerce in these areas. It has always been my desire that the interest of land owners be protected in whatever process we create. The only way to accomplish this would be to have accurate, current and applicable data. This grant will afford us that opportunity. I look forward to continue work on behalf of our citizens on this very important issue.”

Conrad Comeaux, Lafayette Parish Tax Assessor, offered the following in support: “I’m looking forward to working with the Center for Community Progress and the local stakeholders to develop what we hope will be a model for dealing with problem properties in Lafayette Parish.  Now is a great time for all of the interested parties to cooperate on a worthwhile cost-effective project that will hopefully address blighted, abandoned and adjudicated properties in our community.  This is a great opportunity to move our parish forward.”

 

“Adjudicated properties have been one of my most frustrating roadblocks as City-Parish President. I commend our planning staff for continuing to work towards innovative solutions and seek assistance to help move these properties back into commerce and off the backs of government and taxpayers,” said City-Parish President Joey Durel.

The LCG proposal included the following statistics about the state of adjudicated properties in the parish:
  • There are more than 700 adjudicated properties within Lafayette Parish, which represents a 40% increase in a five-year span. 
  • More than 70% of adjudicated properties in Lafayette Parish are located within the city of Lafayette.
  • Council Districts 3 and 4 have approximately 60% of the parish’s adjudicated properties.
  • Approximately 43% of adjudicated properties within Lafayette Parish are single-family residential, and only 3% are commercial properties.
  • More than 60% of adjudicated properties are found within census blocks that have a minority composition in excess of 70%.

The grant will provide similar work in the other two locations. In Atlanta, Community Progress will work with staff at the City of Atlanta and the Fulton County/City of Atlanta Land Bank on using delinquent property tax enforcement systems and housing and building codes to strengthen municipal responses to blight, vacancy and abandonment in distressed neighborhoods.  In Butte-Silver Bow, work will focus on how code enforcement can be strategically deployed and on finding new ways that the merged city-county government can promote collaboration across departments to support historic preservation, well-maintained buildings and stable neighborhoods.

About Center for Community Progress and the TASP Program

Since its founding in 2010, the Flint, Michigan-based Center for Community Progress has provided technical assistance to more than 100 communities across 22 states. Community Progress launched TASP in early 2014 in response to two needs: first, the need to provide individual cities with affordable, high-quality guidance in the fight to remediate blighted, vacant properties, and second, the need to develop fresh approaches to blight that could become models other cities will learn from.

Founded in 2010, the Center for Community Progress is the only national 501(c)3 nonprofit organization solely dedicated to building a future in which entrenched, systemic blight no longer exists in American communities. The mission of Community Progress is to ensure that communities have the vision, knowledge, and systems to transform blighted, vacant, and other problem properties into assets supporting neighborhood vitality. As a national leader on solutions for blight and vacancy, Community Progress serves as the leading resource for local, state and federal policies and best practices that address the full cycle of property revitalization, from blight prevention, through the acquisition and maintenance of problem properties, to their productive reuse. Major support for Community Progress is generously provided by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Ford Foundation.