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
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
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
“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
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.