Springfield is one of 10 municipalities across three states selected to send a delegation to the 2023 Vacant Property Leadership Institute (VPLI) Nov. 7-10 in Austin, Texas. Springfield’s delegation will comprise:
- Brock Rowe, director of Building Development Services
- Maurice Jones, deputy city manager
- Duke McDonald, assistant city attorney
- Becky Volz, Neighborhood Advisory Council chair
- Allen Icet, Greene County collector.
Vacant and chronic nuisance properties continue to be among the biggest concerns of Springfield residents. The City’s Building Development Services (BDS) department processed nearly 18,000 nuisance-related code enforcement cases between January 2015 and December 2021. Volz and former NAC chairs Rusty Worley and Pete Radecki presented the NAC’s Chronic Nuisance Properties Workgroup Report to City Council on May 23. View the report at springfieldmo.gov/chronicnuisancereport and watch the presentation at https://vimeo.com/827367588.
“We continue to look for solutions for addressing chronic nuisance properties in Springfield,” Rowe said. “We look forward to this opportunity to learn more from the VPLI and other delegations, as well as putting what we learn into practice with Greene County and the NAC.”
VPLI is a training program that equips leaders with the skills to address vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties for the benefit of their communities. Made possible through the support of the Wells Fargo Foundation and the Truist Charitable Fund, VPLI is a program of the Center for Community Progress, a national nonprofit dedicated to tackling vacant and abandoned properties.
Delegations from each of the following municipalities will participate:
- Indiana: Gary, Kokomo, Muncie
- Missouri: Columbia, Springfield, St. Louis City, St. Louis County
- Ohio: Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton.
Cities were selected through a competitive application process. The selected cities include rural, suburban and urban communities and range in population from about 60,000 to nearly 1 million. They also face similar challenges such as high rates of vacancy, faulty mortgage foreclosure processes, tax delinquency, ineffective property maintenance systems and other issues.
“Each municipality participating in this year’s training program was selected because they demonstrated strong leadership, are committed to racial equity, and represent unique opportunities for developing new solutions to shifting the systems responsible for vacant, abandoned, and other problem properties,” said Courtney Knox, interim president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress.
Delegations will receive hands-on training from top experts on urban policy and equitable community revitalization. Immediately following VPLI, Community Progress will invite participating cities to apply for a Technical Assistance Award to make the lessons from VPLI actionable. A total of 1,000 hours of customized, expert guidance from VPLI’s technical assistance team will be divided among the awarded communities to help each community shape and sustain policy, practice, and process changes to address vacancy and abandonment.
Participants of past Vacant Property Leadership Institutes have gone on to pass state and local laws that enable them to fight problem properties more effectively, implemented comprehensive revitalization solutions in some of their most vulnerable communities, broken down agency and sector silos, and developed lasting, fruitful relationships with peers in their cities and states, and across the country, according to VPLI.