April 16, 2013

Neighborhood Revitalization: Determining the Level of Intervention

In working with local governments and redevelopment and housing authorities over the years to help to address neighborhood revitalization opportunities, I realized the need to develop a quick guide sheet to visually depict the level of intervention necessary to address deteriorated and blighted housing. The attached document, “Neighborhood Revitalization: Levels of Intervention – Conceptualized,” provides a convenient way to view a neighborhood block (consisting of 20 lots measuring 25 x 100 feet) experiencing deterioration. While the configuration of blocks and lots in your older urban communities may differ somewhat from the diagrams, the overall intervention model still applies.

You’ll notice the model outlines three levels of intervention – minimal, revitalization and redevelopment.  In many cases, blocks involving one or two deteriorated housing units will require minimal intervention that may be addressed either by the market through investor purchase or by voluntary community action. Such community action might be facilitated through faith-based groups, the Rebuilding Together initiative or Habitat’s “Brush with Kindness” program.

As the block deteriorates to a point that requires greater levels of intervention, it’s likely that multiple groups will need to work together to address the significant number of deteriorated or dilapidated properties. Accordingly, partnerships involving the same community action groups may be necessary to focus attention on one impacted neighborhood block. Once these types of partnerships are created, the approach can be applied to adjacent deteriorated blocks with the goal of addressing revitalization of the entire neighborhood over time.

The third level of intervention (redevelopment) increasingly presents the greatest challenge for communities. Once a neighborhood reaches the point where more than 50 percent of the properties are a blighting influence on the community, the difficult decision arises concerning the long-term viability of a restored but perhaps functionally obsolete neighborhood fabric. While neighborhoods with unique architecture and desirable locations might thrive with an investment in the existing fabric, in other cases significant neighborhood transformation might be necessary to create a competitive community.

Do you have an interest in neighborhood revitalization and how to mobilize the resources to address such opportunities? If so, you might want to attend VHDA’s two-day training entitled, “Revitalizing Neighborhoods through Housing and Economic Development.”  Announcements concerning this training will appear on this blog, so check back for details. Or email Swetha Kumar to be placed on a contact list for the next training.  Plus, if you’re a planner with AICP certification, you can earn 14 CM credits!                              

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