Today, on National Citizenship Day, President Obama launched the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign to celebrate immigrant and refugee contributions to our country’s social and cultural fabric, and to provide critical resources for those on the path to becoming American citizens. Noting the vital role immigrants have for our country’s continued economic prosperity, President Obama released a video message to encourage residents to commit to US Citizenship today.
Announcing three upcoming events plus our media round-up covering legacy cities news this month. It’s already been a busy year.
Urban Sustainability Meetups in Detroit, NYC (and SF and LA)
Meetups under the banner of “urban sustainability” have formed as informal groups of dedicated urbanists of all ages in cities around the country. Staff from the American Assembly helped to organize the Meetup in New York which has an event this Sunday, January 25th at the Queens Museum on Urban Renewal, and its every-other month happy hour on Thursday, February 5. Also scheduled is an Urban Sustainability Meetup in Detroit on Thursday, February 5th.
An estimated 120 land banks exist in theUnited States, and their ability to adapt to local conditions and needs is helping communities, large and small, address the negative impacts of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties.
In Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods, authors Payton Heins and Tarik Abdelazim, from the Center for Community Progress, reveal trends in the growing land bank movement. Examining more than half of the nation’s land banks, the report includes (1) characteristics of successful land banks, (2) a national scan of land banking in the U.S., (3) in-depth portraits of seven diverse land banks, and (4) a rich array of appendices featuring land bank policies and other core documents.
A new study of college-educated immigrants will track the experiences of underutilized, skilled immigrants in six cities to discover ways to better integrate and leverage the talents of workers who were educated abroad.… Read More
Will a Greenbelt Help to Shrink Detroit’s Wasteland?
by Mark Skidmore, professor of economics at Michigan State University
This Land Lines article considers the fiscal causes and repercussions of Detroit’s surplus of housing and vacant property, and some potential ways to reconcile the remaining number of people with the amount of vacant and publicly held property. These measures range from targeting densely populated neighborhoods for redevelopment to establishing a greenbelt and reclaiming vacant parcels for public use.
Detroit Launches Website to Auction Homes to Residents, Not Developers
by Bill Bradley at Next City
Detroit launched buildingdetroit.org on Monday, which aims to auction off houses with the goal of ensuring they serve as real neighborhood building blocks. How? Buyers have to prove they are moving in (or being rehabbed for prospective homeowners). Also, you must be a Michigan resident or business in order to bid.
Is the ‘Rust Belt’ a Dirty Word?
by Richey Piiparinen at Huffington Post
“Rust Belt”: does it connote a lost industry and the shame of being left behind, or is it a powerful way to reclaim one’s history?
America’s Urban Future
by Vishaan Chakrabarti at New York Times
A broad call for policies that advance urban interests: increasing density, city infrastructure and amenities.
Can Youngstown Make It On Its Own?
by Alan Mallach at Rooflines
“The entire region [has] to realize not only that Youngstown isn’t going away, but that their decline and that of the city are totally intertwined—and that the region isn’t going to revive until or unless Youngstown does.”
The Obama Administration and the Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative (SC2) have recently announced its expansion to include seven new cities:
Brownsville, Texas; Gary, Indiana; Flint, Michigan; Macon, Georgia; Rockford, Illinois; Rocky Mountain, North Carolina; and St. Louis, Missouri.
SC2 is a program that helps link urban leadership with federal resources and expertise with the hopes that it will help reduce red tape and improve local capacity. What this means is that the federal government has placed capable officials in cities that could use them. People like Kathleen Fox, SC2 Fellow and recent Legacy Cities Design Initiative participant, have been on the ground for nearly two years in several legacy cities, including Cleveland, Youngstown, Detroit and New Orleans.… Read More
The future of the New Market Tax Credit (NMTC), a federal subsidy for businesses and development agencies to encourage investment in underserved communities, is now unclear as the program expired at the end of 2013. NMTC officially ended at the close of 2011 but was quickly renewed. There’s no sign of extension this time around, though senators Jay Rockefeller (D-West Virginia) and Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) introduced legislation to make the program permanent in June.
Next City’s Bill Bradley has been covering the successes of NMTCs and recently wrote on what one distressed community in Chicago now faces with its recent expiry:
The loss of NMTCs won’t entirely scare off investors, but it could certainly give them pause. Southside Community Optimal Redevelopment Enterprise (SCORE), an organization on Chicago’s South Side, was awarded $20 million in credits in 2012. Joe Bakhos, SCORE’s community outreach director, expressed worry for how developers and investors will finance projects in low-income neighborhoods once the NMTC program expires.
Why Cities Can’t Win in State Government
Richard Florida highlights a study to support an “age-old urbanist complaint” that “economically powerful cities are held hostage by rurally dominated legislatures.”
One central argument from lawyers for the city’s public sector unions and retirees was that Detroit’s request for bankruptcy protection came before it had made good faith attempts to negotiate with creditors.