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Land banking

Health Factors: Housing & Transit
Decision Makers: Community Development Professionals Local Government State Government Nonprofit Leaders
Evidence Rating: Some Evidence
Population Reach: 50-99% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to decrease disparities

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Description

Land banks acquire, hold, manage, and develop problem properties such as vacant lots, abandoned buildings, or foreclosures and transition them to productive uses such as affordable housing developments, community-focused commercial buildings, community gardens, or green spaces. Land banks can also demolish abandoned or unsafe buildings. State and local governments can support land banks by allowing low or no cost purchases of tax foreclosures, clearing titles and/or forgiving back taxes, holding land tax free, or negotiating property transfers that address community needs. Land banks are generally governmental entities created and managed at the local or regional level (US HUD-NSP Land banking 101, CCP-Heins 2014, Negro 2012). Land banks vary in size, managing as few as 10 to over 2,000 parcels a year (CCP-Heins 2014). 

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced blight
Improved neighborhood quality
Increased neighborhood socio-economic diversity
Increased access to affordable housing
Improved sense of community

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that land banking reduces blight by demolishing deteriorated or unsafe structures, reducing property vacancies, and maintaining vacant lots (CCP-Heins 2014, NYLBA 2014, Whitaker 2014). Land banking is also a suggested strategy to revitalize declining urban neighborhoods, improve community development (US HUD-Sage Computing 2009, CCP-Alexander 2015), and develop economically integrated communities (Brookings-Alexander 2008, Fitzpatrick 2009). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects and determine the characteristics, size, and scale of the most effective efforts (Negro 2012, CCP-Alexander 2015).

Cities with many vacant lots or abandoned properties can benefit from land banks (CCP-Alexander 2015). Land banks can stabilize property values in declining areas, increase revenue (Whitaker 2014, NYLBA 2014, Keating 2013, Dewar 2015), and reduce maintenance costs for local governments (CCP-Alexander 2015, NYLBA 2014). Land banks can also increase affordable housing opportunities, green space, and community gardens (CCP-Heins 2014, CCP-Alexander 2015, Negro 2012).

Partnering with other area programs that address blight and engaging with community members through neighborhood meetings or a formal community advisory board can increase the likelihood that land bank efforts will meet community needs (CCP-Heins 2014, NYLBA 2014, US HUD-NSP Land banking 101). Using side lot programs to sell vacant lots to owners of adjacent properties at a reduced rate can help land trusts engage local buyers and expedite the property’s return to productive use (Negro 2012). Community-based property maintenance programs that depend on local volunteers or paid partners can support local economic development and volunteer opportunities (CCP-Heins 2014).

Land bank acquisition can be an alternative to selling problem properties at auction; land bank acquisitions are associated with greater levels of community development (Dewar 2015).

Implementation

United States

Eleven states have legislation that supports land banks as of 2015: Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Delaware (CCP-Land bank map).

There are approximately 120 land banking initiatives across the country (CCP-Alexander 2015). Many initiatives are multi-faceted. Michigan’s Genesee County Land Bank Authority (GCLBA), the largest operating land bank in the US, for example, held over 11,000 properties in 2013 (CCP-Heins 2014); it also runs a competitive grant process for community groups to maintain lots in exchange for a stipend through its Clean and Green Program (GCLB-Clean & green). Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s land bank provides homes to immigrants, wounded war veterans, and artists, allows vacant lots to be used as community gardens, and partners with the justice system to maintain land bank-owned properties (Cuyahoga Land Bank, Keating 2013).

The Detroit Land Bank Authority’s Community Partner Program connects faith and community-based organizations in its efforts and in Syracuse, NY, land banks use recyclable housing material from demolitions (DLBA, Syracuse land bank). 

Wisconsin

As of Summer 2016, Wisconsin does not have land banks in operation (CCP-Land bank map).

Implementation Resources

CCP-Land bank headquarters - Center for Community Progress (CCP). Land bank information headquarters: Resources, publications, and toolkit. Accessed on July 27, 2016
ChangeLab-Housing toolkit 2015 - ChangeLab Solutions. Preserving, protecting, and expanding affordable housing: A policy toolkit for public health. 2015. Accessed on October 24, 2016
GLEFC-O'Brien 2005 - O’Brien KE, Toth K. Best practices in land bank operation. Cleveland: Great Lakes Environmental Finance Center (GLEFC), Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs Cleveland State University; 2005. Accessed on July 27, 2016
LISC-Affordable housing - Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). Helping neighbors build communities: Affordable housing. Accessed on May 19, 2017
RSP-Land banks - Right-Sized Places (RSP). Land Banks in Pennsylvania: A handbook for counties and municipalities. Accessed on July 27, 2016
US HUD-NSP land bank toolkit - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD), HUD Exchange, Neighborhood Stabilization Program. NSP land banking toolkit. Accessed on July 27, 2016
WRLC-Land bank - Western Reserve Land Conservancy (WRLC). Land bank playbook: a tool to plan, establish, and operate county land banks in Ohio. Accessed on July 27, 2016

Citations - Description

CCP-Heins 2014 - Heins P, Abdelazim T. Take it to the bank: How land banks are strengthening America's neighborhoods. Center for Community Progress: Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places (CCP). 2014. Accessed on July 26, 2016
Negro 2012 - Negro SE. You can take it to the bank: The role of land banking in dealing with distressed properties. Zoning and Planning Law Report. 2012;35(9):1-12. Accessed on July 27, 2016
US HUD-NSP Land banking 101 - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Neighborhood Stabilization Project (NSP). Land Banking 101: What is a land bank? Accessed on February 27, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Brookings-Alexander 2008 - Alexander FS. Land banking as metropolitan policy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution; 2008. Accessed on July 27, 2016
CCP-Alexander 2015* - Alexander FS. Land banks and land banking, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: Center for Community Progress (CCP); 2015. Accessed on July 27, 2016
CCP-Heins 2014 - Heins P, Abdelazim T. Take it to the bank: How land banks are strengthening America's neighborhoods. Center for Community Progress: Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places (CCP). 2014. Accessed on July 26, 2016
Dewar 2015* - Dewar M. Reuse of abandoned property in Detroit and Flint: impacts of different types of sales. Journal of Planning Education and Research. 2015:1-22. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Fitzpatrick 2009 - Fitzpatrick TJ. Understanding Ohio’s land bank legislation. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Policy Discussion Papers. 2009: Policy Discussion Paper No. 25. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Keating 2013* - Keating WD. Urban land banks and the housing foreclosure and abandonment crisis. Saint Louis University Public Law Review; 2013. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Negro 2012 - Negro SE. You can take it to the bank: The role of land banking in dealing with distressed properties. Zoning and Planning Law Report. 2012;35(9):1-12. Accessed on July 27, 2016
NYLBA 2014 - New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA). New York State Land Banks: Combating blight and vacancy in New York Communities. 2014. Accessed on July 27, 2016
US HUD-NSP Land banking 101 - US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD). Neighborhood Stabilization Project (NSP). Land Banking 101: What is a land bank? Accessed on February 27, 2017
US HUD-Sage Computing 2009 - Sage Computing, Inc. Revitalizing foreclosed properties with land banks. Washington, DC: US Department of Housing and Urban Development (US HUD), Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R); 2009. Accessed on February 27, 2017
Whitaker 2014 - Whitaker S, Fitzpatrick TJ. Land bank 2.0: An empirical evaluation. Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland Working Paper No. 12-30r. 2014. Accessed on July 27, 2016

Citations - Implementation

CCP-Alexander 2015* - Alexander FS. Land banks and land banking, 2nd edition. Washington, DC: Center for Community Progress (CCP); 2015. Accessed on July 27, 2016
CCP-Heins 2014 - Heins P, Abdelazim T. Take it to the bank: How land banks are strengthening America's neighborhoods. Center for Community Progress: Vacant Spaces into Vibrant Places (CCP). 2014. Accessed on July 26, 2016
CCP-Land bank map - Center for Community Progress (CCP). National map of land banks & land banking programs. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Cuyahoga Land Bank - Cuyahoga Land Bank. Returns vacant and abandoned foreclosed properties to productive use. Accessed on July 27, 2016
DLBA - Detroit Land Bank Authority (DLBA). Building Detroit: Community Partnership Program. Accessed on July 27, 2016
GCLB-Clean & green - Genesee County Land Bank (GCLB). Clean & Green Program: maintains and beautifies vacant properties. Accessed on August 1, 2016
Keating 2013* - Keating WD. Urban land banks and the housing foreclosure and abandonment crisis. Saint Louis University Public Law Review; 2013. Accessed on July 27, 2016
Syracuse land bank - Greater Syracuse Land Bank. The land bank returns vacant, abandoned, and underutilized properties to productive use. Accessed on July 27, 2016

Page Last Updated

July 27, 2016

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