Every eighteen months, the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference takes place in different American city. On September 28-30, over 1,000 community development professionals gathered in Baltimore to attend this year’s conference. PCRG staff attended RVP 2016 to learn more about vacant properties and network with community development professionals from around the country. Sessions on land banks, code enforcement, community land trusts, and other relevant topics provided opportunities for staff to engage with the work being done by other communities facing similar issues around vacancy and abandonment. A mobile tour of properties reclaimed by nonprofits in the Sandtown neighborhood of Baltimore provided an opportunity to engage directly with the redevelopment of a specific neighborhood. Keynotes from speakers like Congressman Dan Kildee, author and Harvard Professor Matthew Desmond, regional arts nonprofit New Lens, and more provided additional forums for learning.
PCRG members were also well represented at the conference. Staff from East Liberty Development, Inc; GTECH Strategies; Hilltop Alliance, Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation; Hill Community Development Corporation; and Operation Better Block attended the conference. Staff from member organizations were also represented as speakers on sessions addressing their work with Lots to Love , data collection about properties in Homewood, and the Vacant Homes Tour. Gavin White, from GTECH Strategies, recently reflected on the idea of growth presented at the conference in a post on the GTECH Strategies blog: “Ultimately, it’s how growth happens that matters. Is it growth that includes others? Is it growth that we can all share in? Or is it simply growth without caring?”
Hosted by the Center for Community Progress, Reclaiming Vacant Properties is a national conference that presents groundbreaking ideas for solving problems related to vacancy, abandonment, and blight. The Center for Community Progress (CCP), a national nonprofit focused on eliminating systemic vacancy and abandonment in American communities, has a long history of partnering with PCRG and other Pittsburgh community development stakeholders. In addition to valuable technical assistance on a number of occasions, CCP’s President and CEO, Tamar Shapiro, spoke at PCRG’s Community Development Summit in 2015. For more about the conference, visit Next City’s coverage of Reclaiming Vacant Properties.