Sessions

In 2019, the Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference will feature more than 60 sessions. These include:

  • Breakout Sessions (1.5 hours in length): Included with your RVP registration.
  • Mobile Workshops (2.5 hours in length): These workshops take you out into Atlanta’s neighborhoods to experience the City firsthand and learn from local leaders. They are limited in space and require an extra fee. They typically sell out fast!
  • Training Seminars (2 hours in length): These seminars offer an in-depth, hands-on learning experience. They are limited in space and require an extra fee. These also typically sell out fast!

Browse through all of the sessions below, or use the dropdown menus to sort by Day, Topic, or Type. The “Topic” dropdown menu will help you narrow down to the sessions that are most relevant for you by subject matter.

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019


4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Tapping Development Potential in Residual Urban Spaces

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
Reuse of Lots and Land
Each city has its own collection of “urban residue” - land leftover from standardized planning processes and regulations. Residual spaces, though underutilized or simply forgotten, hold opportunity for granular urban development and can be found in both affluent and resource-rich... Full Description

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Leveraging Disaster Recovery Funds through Public-Private Partnerships for Affordable Housing

Breakout Session
Disaster Recovery and Resiliency
State and Federal Policy and Programs
In many communities of Eastern North Carolina, incomes are too low, housing quality is poor, flooding issues are persistent, and population is declining. Partners in North Carolina recognize the intrinsic value, however, of preserving these communities and ensuring the long-term... Full Description
Speaker(s):

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Parcel Data: The Building Blocks of Community Change

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
Planning / Data / Evaluation
Collecting, analyzing, and clearly communicating data to residents, government partners, and other stakeholders is an important aspect advocate for change that happens 'with' and not ‘to’ communities. A parcel-level understanding also enables a more targeted approach to making an impact.... Full Description

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

“Sometimes it’s Hand-to-Hand Combat”: Work with Distressed Asset Pools

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
In 2015, NCST and the Housing Partnership Network created the Community Restoration Corporation (CRC) to resolve pools of distressed assets donated by large loan servicing companies. Almost five years later, over 900 delinquent single-family mortgage assets have been resolved through... Full Description

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Safe, Healthy Rental Housing: Coordinated Approaches and Unintended Consequences

Breakout Session
Code Enforcement and Rental Properties
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Rental regulation programs impact the overall quality and safety of a community’s housing stock, but increased regulation can result in unintended consequences. The cities of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Rochester, New York, have established successful rental programs that allocate scarce local... Full Description

4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Community-Driven Visioning to Reclaim Vacant Properties in Fort Wayne and Philadelphia

Breakout Session
The constant presence of abandoned properties, overgrown lots, and trash can take a toll on a community’s psychological wellbeing. This session will showcase efforts In Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to reimagine vacant spaces and ultimately change the narrative... Full Description

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Developing a Market-Informed Strategy to Serve Weak Markets

Training Seminar
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Land Banks and Land Banking
Understanding market conditions and applying market-informed strategies requires determining what data is needed, how to collect it, and how to use it. Using Reclaiming Our Neighborhoods (RON), a Milwaukee-based coalition, as an example, speakers will share how to conduct housing... Full Description

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Land Banking 101: Everything You Want to Learn About Land Banking

Training Seminar
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Land Banks and Land Banking
What is a land bank, and what does it do? This ground-level, introductory course on land banking will take an in-depth look at how land banks can be a critical tool to acquire, maintain, and facilitate problem properties back into... Full Description
Speaker(s):

4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

New to Nudge? Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Achieve Community Development Outcomes

Training Seminar
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Want to reduce repeat code violations? Or encourage residents to dispose of bulky items properly? Having difficulty selling properties through your land bank? Behavioral economics can help! In this workshop, trainers will first introduce behavioral economics and how it can... Full Description

4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Reinvigorating a Neighborhood Business District with a Pop-Up Studio

Mobile Workshop
Economic and Workforce Development
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
In 2017, a pop-up urban design laboratory called the Atlanta City Studio moved to a storefront in Cascade Heights, a stable African American neighborhood in southwest Atlanta, anchored by a small commercial district. The Atlanta City Studio is a workspace... Full Description

4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Housing Stabilization and Preservation on Atlanta’s Westside

Mobile Workshop
Housing Stabilization
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Atlanta’s residential Westside, which is about 96% African American, has faced decades of depopulation, disinvestment, and escalating crime. More than half of residents live in poverty. Despite these challenges, the Westside has significant assets. Quest Community Development Organization (Quest) is... Full Description

4:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Land Bank-Community Land Trust Partnerships in Action

Mobile Workshop
It is no secret that communities are dealing with the combined devastating effects of vacant properties and a lack of affordability. And transforming vacant properties into safe, high-quality, permanently affordable housing is more complicated than it sounds. Excitingly, the Fulton... Full Description
Speaker(s):

Thursday, October 3, 2019


8:30 am - 10:00 am

Keeping it in House: Public Control of Property Tax Enforcement is Essential

Breakout Session
Property tax is a public asset that can improve and protect our communities. However, nearly 2/3 of states allow counties or local governments to sell tax liens to private investors when property taxes go unpaid. This practice frustrates efforts to... Full Description
Speaker(s):

8:30 am - 10:00 am

Fitzgerald Revitalization: Inclusive Redevelopment Through Partnership

Breakout Session
Economic and Workforce Development
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
The Fitzgerald neighborhood in Detroit, Michigan, has faced decades of disinvestment. Starting in 2016, public, nonprofit, philanthropic, and resident leaders came together to transform 400 publicly owned vacant properties into community assets that advance civic engagement and equity. Through hyperlocal... Full Description

8:30 am - 10:00 am

Stabilizing Land Ownership: Building Capacity to Address Heir Property

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
Heir property is the untold story behind blight and generational poverty. All too often, even those who own real property are “locked out” of its potential wealth and benefits for one crucial reason: they cannot prove their ownership outright. This... Full Description

8:30 am - 10:00 am

Transforming Vacant Lots into Community-Designed Parks

Breakout Session
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
To ensure that a new green space will have lasting community benefits, residents need to be involved in every step of the process, from visioning and planning to planting, construction, and ongoing maintenance. In Los Angeles, California and Atlanta, Georgia,... Full Description

8:30 am - 10:00 am

Assessing City Housing and Development Policy through a Racial Equity Lens

Breakout Session
In the work to revitalize neighborhoods, it is important to be prepared for our own success. That means assessing our cities’ housing and development policies to ensure that they promote equitable and inclusive growth. Participants in Grounded Solutions Network’s ForEveryoneHome... Full Description
Speaker(s):

8:30 am - 10:00 am

Creative Techniques for Selling Publicly Held Real Estate Inventories

Breakout Session
Land Banks and Land Banking
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Louis, Missouri, city and land bank officials are finding creative techniques to deal with unconventional publicly held real estate inventories. Panelists from Milwaukee will discuss the use of the MLS listing service and real estate... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Lessons from Rural America to Inform Urban Revitalization

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Rural communities are usually absent from conversations on blight or included as an afterthought. Yet, innovative rural approaches can help inform urban blight elimination and vice versa. This session focuses on lessons learned from rural communities in West Virginia. Collaborative... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Utilizing Nonprofit Legal Partnerships to Strengthen Neighborhoods

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Housing Stabilization
Panelists from St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri will discuss how partnerships between nonprofit community groups and lawyers are strengthening neighborhoods facing blight and abandonment. This partnership improves neighborhood capacity though nonprofit corporate counsel, enables community groups to rehabilitate and... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Fostering Entrepreneurship in Culturally-Identified Commercial Districts

Breakout Session
Economic and Workforce Development
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
The significant national growth of the small business economy, particularly among women and people of color, has shown a correspondingly significant impact on downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts across the country. In response to these national trends, the concept of... Full Description
Speaker(s):

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Restoring Family Equity and Health through Suburban Revitalization

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
Foreclosure crisis recovery has been slow and uneven for South DeKalb County, Georgia. Nearly 30% of South DeKalb homeowners remain in negative equity, stripping many African American homeowners of their primary source of wealth and impacting property tax base needed... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Centering Community Voices & Equity in Public Land Use Decisions

Breakout Session
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Public Safety and Public Health
In Cook County, Illinois, recent projects have demonstrated how centering equity up front–and creating community partnerships–results in land uses that are more aligned with community desires and healthier for the region. This is especially crucial in Chicago where, due to... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Town & Gown and Other Partnerships: Job Creation through Revitalization

Breakout Session
Economic and Workforce Development
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
Through creative town-and-gown partnerships, and landbank-nonprofit partnerships, community revitalization and housing rehab can achieve win-win results for those seeking education, job training, and neighborhood improvement. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, local government, a trades college, and a construction company have partnered to... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:00 pm

Inclusionary Housing in Mixed Market Cities

Breakout Session
Inclusionary housing policies tie the creation of affordable homes for low- and moderate-income households to the construction of market-rate housing or commercial development. In its simplest form, an inclusionary housing policy might require developers to set aside 10-20% of new... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Sustainable Landscapes for Vacant Land Transformation Projects

Training Seminar
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Reuse of Lots and Land
Becoming a steward of vacant land is an opportunity to transform your community beyond your wildest dreams. This interactive training session will cover how to utilize vacant lots to meet your community's goals by exploring methods for planning, implementing, and... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Understanding Key Legal Tools to Address Problem Properties

Training Seminar
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Code Enforcement and Rental Properties
Vacant, abandoned properties and problem rental properties are a constant source of frustration to all those working to stabilize neighborhoods. Much of the frustration stems from the difficulty of navigating legal issues associated with these properties, from how to get... Full Description

10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Placemaking and Community Engagement in the Sweet Auburn Historic District

Mobile Workshop
Arts / Placemaking / Culture
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Concentrated along 1.5 miles of Auburn Avenue, the Sweet Auburn Historic District reflects the history, heritage, and achievements of Atlanta's African Americans. Sweet Auburn's fortunes were tied to the residential patterns forced on African Americans during the early 20th century—the... Full Description

10:30 am - 1:00 pm

BeltLine by Bus: Exploring the Development of Atlanta’s BeltLine

Mobile Workshop
Planning / Data / Evaluation
Reuse of Lots and Land
As one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in the United States, the Atlanta BeltLine, is building a more resilient Atlanta. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods via a... Full Description
Speaker(s):

10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Place-Based Community Development After the Loss of an Anchor Institution in Historic South Atlanta

Mobile Workshop
Housing Stabilization
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
The neighborhood of historic South Atlanta was once home to Clark University and recognized as an “elite” African American community during segregation. Clark University’s relocation to the West End in 1941 resulted in a shift in black population to the... Full Description

10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Positioning East Point, Georgia, for Prosperity

Mobile Workshop
Economic and Workforce Development
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
Located adjacent to south west Atlanta in Fulton County, Georgia, the inner-ring suburb of East Point is in transition. The city faces a 23% poverty rate, life expectancy 14 years shorter than the national average, 46% of children living in... Full Description

10:30 am - 1:00 pm

Reinvesting in Forgotten Communities of Color through Equitable Development

Mobile Workshop
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
Atlanta's Southside is home to diverse communities of color that have experienced decades of disinvestment and devaluation. The Southside includes more than 120,000 residents and 3,300 business. Over the last five years, private and philanthropic institutions have injected investment to... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

MARTA: Public Transit is Only Half the Story

Mobile Workshop
Providing Atlanta with better public transit is only half of the story. A substantial part of MARTA involves driving economic development in the communities around the city. Since the adoption of MARTA’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Guidelines and Policies, MARTA has... Full Description
Speaker(s):

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

On the Edge: The Future of African-American Urban Middle Neighborhoods

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Housing Stabilization
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Twenty years ago, most older American cities had many predominantly African-American ‘middle neighborhoods’—solid working- and middle-class, mostly single family, owner-occupied neighborhoods. Since then, large numbers of these neighborhoods have been hit hard by subprime lending and foreclosures, suburban flight, and... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Love Your Block: Engaging Residents as Partners to Rebuild Community

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Reuse of Lots and Land
Residents experience the greatest impacts of blight in their communities, but shouldn’t just be seen as victims of their circumstances. They are experts and valuable partners in developing solutions. In 2018, Cities of Service initiated a new Love Your Block... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Cracking the Code: Meaningful Code Enforcement Communication and Engagement

Breakout Session
Code Enforcement and Rental Properties
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Code enforcement officers often struggle to explain what they do and why it is important for residents’ quality of life. How can cities change the narrative around this critical service? How can code enforcement departments explain their process, as well... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Transforming Failing Schools through Affordable Housing: A Public, Private and Philanthropic Effort

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
Public schools in America are failing, in part, due to student transiency. Students relocate out of schools because rents increase or security issues, and parents move to find safer affordable housing. Some children will move several times in one school... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Building an Asthma-Safe City: A Collaborative Impact Investment Project

Breakout Session
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
Public Safety and Public Health
In Greensboro, North Carolina, analysis of asthma hospitalizations and emergency department visits showed geospatial clustering in areas of town with low-incomes, high rental rates, and a high proportion of substandard housing and code enforcement violations, including the Cottage Grove neighborhood.... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

Land Bank-CLT Partnerships: Creating a Pipeline of Properties for Affordable Housing

Breakout Session
Cities and towns across the country are struggling with an affordable housing crisis. At the same time, many of them have vacant and abandoned properties, often concentrated in disinvested neighborhoods. It’s a common question: can’t those properties be used for... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Westside Promise Zone: Neighborhood Revitalization Alongside Large-Scale Development

Mobile Workshop
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
State and Federal Policy and Programs
Pursuing equitable revitalization alongside large-scale development can be complex and ensuring that development is equitable and engages the community is critical to how place-based initiatives are advanced. To this end, in June 2016 the City of Atlanta received a federal... Full Description

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

BeltLine by Foot: Exploring the Atlanta BeltLine’s Eastside Trail

Mobile Workshop
Planning / Data / Evaluation
Reuse of Lots and Land
As one of the largest, most wide-ranging urban redevelopment programs in the United States, the Atlanta BeltLine, is building a more resilient Atlanta. The Atlanta BeltLine is a sustainable redevelopment project that will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods via a... Full Description
Speaker(s):

1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Reinvesting in Forgotten Communities of Color through Equitable Development

Mobile Workshop
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
Atlanta's Southside is home to diverse communities of color that have experienced decades of disinvestment and devaluation. The Southside includes more than 120,000 residents and 3,300 business. Over the last five years, private and philanthropic institutions have injected investment to... Full Description

Friday, October 4, 2019


8:45 am - 10:15 am

Code Encouragement to Support Rental Property Compliance

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Code Enforcement and Rental Properties
The Community Development Department of the City of Peoria, Illinois, is emphasizing education and engagement over the traditional tools for removing blight. The Code Education program allows the City to work with property owners and tenants across Peoria to prepare... Full Description

8:45 am - 10:15 am

Advocating for Revitalization When All Anyone Wants to Talk About is Gentrification

Breakout Session
Housing Stabilization
State and Federal Policy and Programs
These days, gentrification and constrained housing supply are two themes that dominate conversations in the press and the community development field. While these are real concerns for high-resource, hot-market areas, they can lead to misguided assumptions about what is needed,... Full Description

8:45 am - 10:15 am

Advancing Equity in Weak Market Cities

Breakout Session
Economic and Workforce Development
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
From Gary, Indiana, to Lowell, Massachusetts, smaller post-industrial cities are taking strategic steps to regenerate by building on, and in, downtowns, capitalizing on their unique sense of place, and focusing on workforce development. Join the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy... Full Description

8:45 am - 10:15 am

Deconstruction, Demolition, Mothballing: Pros and Cons in St. Louis and Milwaukee

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
Aging vacant housing stock in neighborhoods with high vacancy rates often suffers from deferred maintenance and neglect, generating widespread building code violations, increased government fees, and overwhelmed enforcement resources. In this session, experts from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and St. Louis, Missouri,... Full Description

8:45 am - 10:15 am

Gaps in the Grid: The Impact of Vacant Properties on Public Infrastructure

Breakout Session
Disaster Recovery and Resiliency
Infrastructure issues plague cities across the nation, but cities facing vacant property challenges often experience an exceptional lack of infrastructure maintenance. From drinking water quality, to sidewalk maintenance, to road funding, the impact of vacant properties extends beyond property lines... Full Description

8:45 am - 10:15 am

From Underpasses to Unused Storefronts: The Transformative Potential of the Arts in Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Tennessee

Breakout Session
Creative, arts-based tactics can help residents reclaim vacant properties, lift up community history, and change the trajectory of their neighborhoods. In Lynn, Massachusetts, residents reclaimed unsafe railroad underpasses through Lynn Lights and shifted the perception of their city through Beyond... Full Description

8:45 am - 10:15 am

Understanding Opportunity Zones: Potential and Risks for Disinvested Communities

Breakout Session
Everybody is talking about Opportunity Zones, the federal tax incentive program aimed at driving private investments into designated disinvested communities. While most of the 8,700 Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) tracts are in desperate need of investment, many are in booming... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

A Green Deal for Legacy Cities—Designing and Implementing Equitable and Inclusive Sustainability Policies, Plans, and Programs

Training Seminar
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Many older industrial legacy cities are working at the intersection of sustainable housing and community development with projects that involve green housing and infrastructure, energy efficiency, and green businesses and jobs. This training will equip participants to develop more inclusive... Full Description

10:30 am - 12:30 pm

Neighborhood Development: Building Local Wealth

Training Seminar
Economic and Workforce Development
Rehab and Reuse of Buildings
The incremental (real estate) development model provides training and tools to help residents and community stakeholders overcome technical knowledge, financial, and social barriers to restoring old buildings or building new buildings in their community. This training will highlight how Flint,... Full Description

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Tackling Rural and Small-Town Vacancy: Empowering Communities with Data

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Planning / Data / Evaluation
Data is often used by policy makers to justify programming and resource allocation decisions that impact vulnerable populations, but the affected populations typically don't have the same degree of data access or fluency. Rural areas can be particularly disadvantaged because... Full Description

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Opportunities for Equitable Development

Breakout Session
Inclusiveness / Fairness / Justice
Land Banks and Land Banking
It is essential to prioritize the equitable development of blighted, vacant properties when working to revitalize neighborhoods facing generational disinvestment and discrimination. This session will highlight programs in New York State’s Capital Region to create opportunities in historically underserved neighborhoods.... Full Description

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Academic Researchers and Activist Residents: Partners in Revitalization

Breakout Session
Blight Elimination and Property Maintenance
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
In Rochester, New York, and Flint, Michigan, residents and universities are partnering to create change at the neighborhood level. In Flint, the Porch Project emerged from a research process matching research expertise with resident priorities. The Porch Project uses beautification... Full Description

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Revitalizing Communities through Green Spaces in Druid Heights

Breakout Session
Arts / Placemaking / Culture
Economic and Workforce Development
For over 40 years, the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation has worked to revitalize a community in the heart of Baltimore City. They have transformed vacant lots and parcels to address community safety and employment training, increase affordable rental and... Full Description

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Transforming Physical Structures through Social Infrastructure

Breakout Session
Arts / Placemaking / Culture
Institutional and Private Sector Partnerships
In Detroit, Michigan, and Indianapolis, Indiana, creative approaches are activating vacant buildings. Detroit’s Design Hubs are a space for collective design visioning and locally focused enterprise incubation to equitably activate vacant storefronts in places targeted for development. In Indianapolis, Big... Full Description

10:45 am - 12:15 pm

Activating Manufacturing Spaces: The Role of Mission-Driven Organizations

Breakout Session
Mission-driven organizations in Houston, Texas, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are leveraging manufacturing to turn underutilized vacant buildings into viable assets. The creation of community-oriented programming around manufacturing is connecting residents with once-underutilized spaces through events, job fairs, and skills training. Engaging... Full Description