Transforming NeighborhoodsA

The National Association of REALTORS® is seeking applications from local REALTOR® associations for Transforming Neighborhoods, which provides REALTORS® with the opportunity to learn alongside their local partners, including governmental staff and officials,  on the underlying factors that keep vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties “stuck” in decline and ways to address these properties to create vibrant and equitable communities. 

Today’s struggling neighborhoods—challenged by systemic vacancy and disinvestment, concentrated poverty, weak housing markets, and racially disparate outcomes—are the lasting legacy of our unjust past.  These neighborhoods are often plagued by vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated (VAD) properties which are more than just eyesores; VAD properties have severe negative impacts, including economic, social, psychological, physical, and environmental, on neighborhoods and the people living in them. As research and reporting have made clear, the health risks of COVID-19 are again falling hardest on these same communities, and the housing challenges are likely to worsen in the coming decade as a result of the economic fallout of this global pandemic.

Developing a comprehensive, community-driven approach to address the negative impacts of VAD properties requires the coordinated efforts of a wide range of public, private, and community stakeholders. Local governments, REALTORS®, nonprofits, philanthropy, residents, anchor institutions, the private sector, and others all have roles to play in addressing these impacts and in developing more equitable and effective strategies to revitalize communities. It is critical for these stakeholders to come together, develop an understanding of the problems facing their communities, and begin to cultivate shared goals and priorities that are responsive to the needs of the community.

Through Transforming Neighborhoods, the National Association of REALTORS® is pleased to collaborate with the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress) to offer educational and technical assessment opportunities to communities across the U.S. to understand and assess systems and policies to more effectively address the challenges and costs imposed by vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties with a focus on equity, inclusion, and resiliency.

About our Partner

The mission of Center for Community Progress is to foster strong, equitable communities where vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties are transformed into assets for neighbors and neighborhoods. Founded in 2010, Community Progress is the leading national, nonprofit resource for urban, suburban, and rural communities seeking to address the full cycle of property revitalization. The organization fulfills its mission by nurturing strong leadership and supporting systemic reforms. Community Progress works to ensure that public, private, and community leaders have the knowledge, capacity, policies, tools, and resources they need to support the equitable reuse of vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

About the Services

Education & Training

National experts will help stakeholders in your community build a common awareness of the problems associated with VAD properties, understand the imperative to center racial equity, and reach consensus on the roles each can play in a comprehensive approach. When REALTORS® learn and develop skills alongside other stakeholders, experience and knowledge are shared and can support effective, equitable revitalization strategies.

Sample agenda: REALTORS® Association of Westmoreland, Indiana and Mon Valley

Benefits:

  • NAR will cover the costs of engaging Community Progress and bringing national experts to your community to conduct a training on the interconnected policies, processes, and systems associated with vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties (approximately a $15,000 value).
  • Trainings blend classroom presentations with interactive discussion, small group activities, and hands-on learning. Recognizing the importance of equipping participants with knowledge and skills to make change happen, the training content emphasizes the practical over the philosophical, relying heavily on real-world examples of best practices.
  • Community Progress will work in partnership with REALTOR® associations and government partners to set an agenda and identify which trainings are best suited for the community. Subject matter experts will conduct each technical training.

Commitments:

  • The REALTOR® association is responsible for expenses related to the event including but not limited to venue rental, catering, marketing, if the training is in-person, and any additional speakers that are not directly engaged by Community Progress as technical experts.  These items are not included in the expenses covered by NAR. Please note that associations may not use any NAR grant programs to cover these expenses.
  • The REALTOR® association must be able to provide logistical and administrative support required to host a full-day training in 2021. This may include coordinating participant registration, securing adequate event space and audio/visual equipment, and providing refreshments for participants.

Preliminary Technical Assessment

A preliminary assessment helps communities identify underlying factors that keep problem properties “stuck” in decline and provides an understanding of the existing tools or opportunities to build a broader coalition of stakeholders that incorporates and centers the voices of community members most impacted by problem properties, in order to strengthen revitalization efforts. Select communities will have the opportunity for a team of technical experts to conduct a preliminary assessment of existing policies, processes, partnerships, and tools in place for addressing VAD properties, and to share observations and recommendations on how to build a more equitable, effective, and efficient approach to vacancy and abandonment.  While each engagement is tailored to the needs identified by each applicant, it is important to note three critical points:

  • Each engagement requires the active participation and support of local governmental staff and officials;
  • Each engagement must demonstrate the applicants’ ability and willingness to incorporate the voices of those most impacted by problem properties into the assessment and efforts to move this work forward in the future; and
  • Observations and recommendations offered will be based on Community Progress’ own independent assessment of what it perceives is needed given the unique challenges facing the particular community.

Sample assessment: Central Missouri Board of REALTORS®

Benefits:

  • NAR will cover the costs of bringing Community Progress to your community to conduct the preliminary assessment (approximately a $20,000 value).
  • The REALTOR® association and government partners will receive copies of final deliverable(s) (i.e. memo, presentation, stakeholder meetings, etc.)

Commitments:

In order for the team of technical experts to satisfactorily complete the preliminary assessment, the REALTOR® association and local government partner:

  • Will be required to arrange meetings with diverse stakeholders that reflect the demographics of the community including racial, ethnic, gender, and income. Stakeholders may include local government leaders and staff, residents most impacted by vacancy and abandonment, and other key stakeholders and leaders in the civic, nonprofit, private and philanthropic sectors.
  • Must ensure commitment from local government practitioners and policy makers to share relevant data, practices, and processes related to the systems of vacancy and abandonment, including but not limited to: parcel data management systems, housing and building code enforcement systems, delinquent property tax enforcement, and land reuse systems.

Application Requirements and Selection Process

Required materials:

  • Completed Transforming Neighborhoods application.
  • Letter of support from the chief executive of your local government (city manager or mayor) if you are applying for a technical assessment.

Selection Process:

  • Deadline: Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday, March 5, 2021.
  • Finalist Interviews: Finalists will be asked to participate in a virtual interview with team members from NAR and Community Progress. REALTOR® association staff and local government partners are expected to participate in the interview
  • Association and Community Selection: NAR along with Community Progress will select and announce final candidates.
  • Service Selection: Based on the interview and review of application, NAR and Community Progress will propose a tailored scope of work which may be a training, technical assessment, or a combination thereof. All parties will mutually agree on the scope, roles, and responsibilities, and then memorialize this shared understanding before any work can proceed.

Selection Criteria

Applications are evaluated by the Center for Community Progress and the National Association of REALTORS ® using the following criteria:

Demonstrated track record of partnerships with local partners – Property vacancy and abandonment are rooted in a diverse array of legal and operational systems and complicated historical dynamics, and because reducing vacancy and abandonment requires involvement of multiple government and community stakeholders. Applicants who demonstrate genuine collaboration with local partners will be prioritized.

Commitment to equity – Policies developed in the absence of close collaboration with the communities and people most affected by those policies are at best ineffective and at worst harmful. The most competitive applicants will address the importance of racial equity and have a plan for the role of residents in the education and assessment of a system or strategy to address vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

Demonstrated need Transforming Neighborhoods is committed to affect positive change in communities facing significant inventories of VAD properties that threaten residents’ quality of life. Please be detailed and thoughtful in describing the scale of the problem in your community, and how your community and its residents are affected by vacancy and abandonment.

Webinars

Webinar Series: Stabilizing and Revitalizing Neighborhoods in the COVID-19 Era

This four-part webinar series examined how REALTOR® Associations can prepare for the critical role they will play with assisting local governments with their COVID-19 neighborhood stabilization and recovery strategies.

Transforming Neighborhoods – Program Overview

This webinar provides an overview of the Transforming Neighborhoods program and highlights past participants who share their experiences and best practices.

Completed Projects

Technical Assessments

Training Agendas

  • Akron Cleveland Association of REALTORS® (view agenda)
  • Bay County REALTOR® Association (view agenda)
  • REALTORS® Association of Westmoreland, Indiana and Mon Valley (view agenda)
  • Spokane Association of REALTORS® (view agenda)
  • Walker Area Association of REALTORS® (view agenda)