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BRS, Inc. Newsletter, April 2017
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Abandoned properties are a problem in many communities, from urban to rural. These properties, which may consist of buildings or vacant lots, can become a nuisance as they can be magnets for illegal activity, a safety or health risk, a fire hazard, a location for unlawful refuse dumping, or simply a negative impact on surrounding property values.  

Laws differ from state to state, but local governments can play an important role once the property has become a nuisance. The best strategy to address a given property will vary from locality to locality, and from site to site.  However, there are general strategies that will be broadly applicable:
  • Conduct an inventory of your abandoned properties to understand the types of properties that are being abandoned, the neighborhoods that are impacted, and the extent of the problem.
  • Develop partnerships between the local government and other stakeholders to address the issue, including neighborhood community development corporations, economic development councils, developers, or others as applicable.
  • Develop neighborhood stabilization strategies to halt further abandonment.
  • Obtain site ownership via tax foreclosure, eminent domain, or purchase, depending upon the situation.  If contamination is suspected, follow federal All Appropriate Inquiry guidelines to retain federal liability relief prior to voluntary acquisition.
  • Secure the site to remove immediate hazards.
  • Conduct environmental investigation activities if warranted.
  • Work with community partners to develop a vision for the reuse of the site that is grounded in neighborhood market dynamics.
  • Develop incentives to encourage redevelopment.
  • Establish design standards to ensure that the redevelopment will be of high quality to discourage future abandonment. Consider integration of green infrastructure or other green elements. 
  • Transfer property to developer to complete redevelopment process.
At each step, grants or financial incentives may be available to assist with the effort.  These often depend upon the ownership status, the activities required, and the desired reuse. For more information on
addressing abandonment, a great resource is the book by Senior Fellow at the Center for Community Progress,  Alan Mallach called: Bringing Buildings Back: From Abandoned Properties to Community Assets.
Funding Opportunities
Every month, we will highlight available grants and programs that might be relevant to your work. To learn more about funding sources and BRS resources, click here

Aetna Foundation – 2017 Cultivating Healthy Communities Grant Program
 
Award Focus: Support for communities’ efforts to become healthier places to live, work, learn, and play by funding projects that address issues in the following domains: Built Environment, Community Safety, Environmental Exposures, Healthy Behaviors, and Social/Economic Factors. 
 
Eligible Entities: Non-profit organizations, Indian tribes, and state or local government agencies are eligible to apply.
 
Applications are due April 14, 2017. More Information.
 
U.S. Department of Agriculture – Urban and Community Forestry Challenge Cost Share Grant Program
 

Award Focus: Funds are available to support national urban forestry studies or projects on non-federal public lands that have a national, regional, or multi-state covers and/or application.
 
Eligible Entities: Non-profit organizations, institutions of higher education, and any unit or subdivision of local government, Indian tribes, or regional or state government are eligible to apply.
 
Applications are due May 24, 2017. More Information.
 
Kresge Foundation – Arts and Culture Local Systems
 
Award Focus: Support for citywide cross-sector and cross-disciplinary projects that embed arts, culture, and community-engaged design into municipal governments and departments and in other non-arts disciplines and sectors.
 
Eligible Entities: Non-profit organizations and local governments are eligible to apply.
 
There are no submission deadlines under this opportunity. Proposals and applications will be accepted on an on-going basis. More Information.
BRS ANNOUNCEMENTS
Congratulations to BRS's Matthew Brener!
Matthew Brener has earned a Master of Science Degree in Economics from the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University. Matthew will continue post-graduate studies and research at Drexel in the operation of energy markets and the valuation of energy infrastructure and assets.

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