In the fall of 2020, SCEMA launched the first-ever virtual seminar series featuring lectures from SCEMA alumni and guest faculty members to dive deeper into the world of strategic code enforcement and give our participants a closer look at what to expect during the academy. Each seminar is available here. Thanks for being a part of SCEMA!
Strategic Code Enforcement Management Academy
If you want to learn more about SCEMA, including information on our annual Academy, you can watch this year’s information session at the link above.
By prioritizing racial equity and elevating equitable policies and practices, Strategic Code Enforcement can help reduce the harm caused by properties with a legacy of unjust policies and racist systems and help improve public health and safety. However, code enforcement done without an understanding of discriminatory policies runs the risk of causing communities more harm.
Local government leaders are increasingly making changes to their code enforcement policies and practices to advance racial equity for all residents. The Center for Community Progress (CCP) welcomes this trend and is now actively helping local leaders recalibrate their code enforcement programs. Learn about CCP’s recent work with the cities of Louisville and St. Louis to review their policies and programs, facilitate cross-department discussions, and provide recommendations for policy reforms and best practices that advance racial equity through their code enforcement operations.
Code enforcement programs in smaller cities and towns face distinctive challenges in addressing problem properties. With smaller staffs and budgets, they have to be more strategic in prioritizing cases and determining what actions they can take. State laws and local policies may further hamstring their efforts to adopt and implement essential code enforcement tools. Sometimes they need a little help from their friends—other agencies, nonprofit partners, and community based organizations. Gateways cities in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have such a friend in MASSHousing’s Neighborhood Hub, which supports neighborhood revitalization by offering tailored technical assistance and capacity building to municipalities and their local and regional partners. The program helps growing cities identify and implement strategies to repair and renew neighborhoods with high rates of vacant, abandoned and deteriorating homes. Learn more about the Neighborhood Hub and how Monica Passeno, MassHousing’s Municipal Technical Assistance Manager, works with gateway cities to address code enforcement issues.
Supporting documents including a copy of the presentation can be found here.
VAPAC was founded in 2005 with a mission of collaboratively bringing together stakeholders to address vacant and abandoned property issues created by the mortgage foreclosure crisis. Over time, in recognition of the dynamic and complex nature of these issues, VAPAC’s mission has evolved to encompass housing and housing finance practices that could lead to vacancy, abandonment, and housing insecurity for owners and renters, as well as the negative outcomes that can impact communities and their housing markets.
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A growing body of evidence confirms that living in unsafe, substandard rental housing can affect the physical health and mental well-being of tenants, local residents and their families. Substandard housing conditions and poor health outcomes are also more prevalent in low-income, high poverty neighborhoods that are predominately communities of color. State laws and local politics can unfortunately present intractable barriers to the enactment of more proactive rental inspection programs. Plus, traditional, reactive code enforcement programs can find proactive approaches problematic to implement. The challenge for policymakers, code practitioners, and community based leaders is how to move this compelling health rationale into concrete policy and program action?
In 2001, the Dallas City Attorney’s Office adopted its community prosecution model to address code, fire and environmental violations that negatively impacted the safety, wellness and economic growth of Dallas’ communities. Unlike traditional prosecution, which stresses conviction, community prosecution seeks to prevent and reduce code violations by bringing civil law enforcement actions to impose state nuisance laws and city ordinances before the courts intervene. Join us to learn how community prosecutors work alongside local detectives, code officers, fire prevention officers, and residents to develop and implement proactive policies and strategies to improve the quality of life in Dallas.
In the last five years, Puerto Rico has been battered by two category five hurricanes, earthquakes, and most recently, COVID-19 and Hurricane Fiona. Prior to that, the archipelago was struggling through a decades-long recession and the imposition of a federal control board. Today, Puerto Rican communities are suffering the worst affordable housing crisis in decades. Join us for a discussion with The Center for Habitat Reconstruction, a San Juan-based non-profit, and its community partners about how citizen participation and code enforcement can be effective strategies for countering the affordability shortages caused by natural and human-made disasters.
Communities must do more to reclaim vacant homes and abandoned properties than just pursue abatement by demolition. Thanks to initial investments from the New York Attorney General’s Office, the City of Albany, New York has developed a collaborative cross-agency strategy to prevent, abate, and rehabilitate vacant properties. Sam Wells and Amanda Wyckoff detail the City’s innovative strategy and share practical insights that other cities can learn from and adapt to their communities.
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Civil receivership can be a formidable tool in the fight against blighted properties, positioning court-appointed third parties to breathe new life into structures and lots ravaged by long-standing neglect, vacancy, or abandonment, but the ingredients that make for a successful city-led receivership program can often be hard to come by. Bolstered by their strengths, Baltimore and Memphis have made receivership the centerpiece of their respective strategies for remediating and reactivating the most problematic properties.
In 2020, Syracuse Code Enforcement took engagement to a new level by bringing on board a team of four community members to serve as part time problem solvers and community educators. Learn about this innovative approach from city code enforcement officials, their nonprofit partners who help coordinate/manage the program and the ambassadors on the structure of the program, the activities, their diverse roles and how to bring together the community and code enforcement.
As part of our SCEMA seminar/webinar series, Mr. Braverman shared information on the essential “building blocks” to ensure that a communities’ code enforcement program is effective, efficient and equitable.
Dennis Kennedy and Stephanie Beebe discuss Toledo’s comprehensive initiative to remediate lead in rental properties and thus improve community health by addressing the safety and quality of rental housing. Learn first-hand from Dennis Kennedy, Code Enforcement Division Director and Stephanie Beebe, Lead Safe Coordinator about how they designed and developed the necessary cross sector partnerships and collaborations. They will also walk through the underlying local government lead safe ordinance and their program implementation plan.
In the context of rising disinvestment in Black and Brown communities and a history of redlining and displacement, the Hester Street team will share their experiences and strategies for how code enforcement agencies can address the root causes of unsafe and unhealthy housing conditions, put equity front and center, and transform their engagement with residents. Given the numerous housing and neighborhood challenges brought on by the pandemic, communities must reevaluate existing code enforcement programs and reimagine a more strategic, systematic approach that can advance healthier and more equitable communities. SCEMA faculty members Nisha Baliga and Jimena Veloz from Hester Street both present.
Code enforcement cannot effectively abate vacant properties without the commitment and support of its public officials and community leaders. One of SCEMA’s core tenets is having cross-sector teams, comprised of code enforcement directors and staff, community leaders, nonprofits, attorneys, and city/county officials, work on these relationships and forge stronger partnerships during the two-day June Academy. Our January Seminar features the St. Louis journey in building one of the most robust community collaboratives to combat vacant properties, one that SCEMA has worked with and helped to enhance. The St. Louis Vacancy Collaborative is a coalition of community members, private and non-profit stakeholders, and city agencies committed to reducing vacant property in St. Louis. The Collaborative helps to coordinate existing vacancy efforts under one umbrella and empowers the public and private sectors to work together toward solutions. It convenes committees and working groups to facilitate systemic change, advance new policies, share success stories, and support neighborhood-centric solutions. Since its informal beginnings in 2015 and its formal launch in 2018, the Collaborative has experienced both wins and challenges in its efforts to build and sustain a coalition of the willing and advance shared goals. Learn from members of the Collaborative about how they built their coalition and examples of the kinds of initiatives that have grown out of their work together.