There are more than 400 vacant and abandoned properties in the City of Hartford. There are also hundreds of occupied rental units that require consistent attention from city officials. Potential threats imposed by these properties include decreased property values, public health risks, increased risk of fire and criminal activity. In response to these issues, Mayor Luke Bronin created the Blight Remediation Team to lead the efforts to eliminate blight in Hartford. In addition, the State of Connecticut authorized $5 million to create the Hartford Land Bank, which will have the power to acquire, hold, manage, and dispose of properties for the purpose of revitalizing neighborhoods. The Hartford Land Bank will also be a resource to assist vulnerable property owners, including the elderly, by providing resources they need to maintain their properties.
The City’s Blight Remediation Team and the Hartford Land Bank will work with a variety of partners to execute a blight remediation strategy to target resources where they will be most effective. This strategy will help the City of Hartford, nonprofit community developers and funding partners, like the Hartford Foundation, to tackle this challenge of blight more comprehensively. To support the Land Bank’s initial work, the Hartford Foundation has awarded a $175,000 grant to the Hartford Land Bank to conduct a property survey and market analysis that will collect the data needed to develop this strategy. The survey will build on the work of the City’s Blight Remediation Team, which has been targeting particular properties and blocks in partnership with residents and community organizations.
“Blighted properties have plagued our neighborhoods for decades, and that’s why we made it a priority from the very beginning to combat blight in an aggressive and systematic way,” said Mayor Bronin. “Our blight team has been working closely with Neighborhood Revitalization Zones to rehabilitate targeted properties across Hartford and we’ve made important progress, but we have a lot more to do. The Land Bank will help us accelerate that work and this generous funding will give us and all of our partners a more detailed roadmap of the entire city. I want to thank the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving for their generous contribution and their partnership in this vital effort to lift up neighborhoods across our city.”
This funding will allow the Land Bank to bring together national experts who have carried out similar surveys in other cities with local partners—from the City’s Office of Community Engagement and Hartford GIS Services as well as members of the Hartford Youth Service Corps. This effort is a true partnership. The City of Hartford is donating staff time for all city employees involved in the project, Hartford’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation is providing administrative support, and other local development organizations serve on the board of the Hartford Land Bank and have offered their expertise in the design of this project.
“The Hartford Foundation is proud to support this collaborative community effort that will help to revitalize the City of Hartford to improve the quality of life for residents, attract new businesses and create jobs,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “As the Hartford Foundation seeks to put greater focus on Community and Economic Development, these types of collaborative partnerships will be an essential component to our efforts on identifying challenges and creating new opportunities in neighborhoods in need of support.”
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $750 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit http://www.hfpg.org or call 860-548-1888.