There are tens of thousands of properties in Pennsylvania that are owned by governmental entities and are currently sitting abandoned, blighted, and off the tax rolls. The goal of the Community Reinvestment Project - CORE - is to turn government-owned properties into productive use to provide workforce housing for target markets such as first-time homebuyers, teachers, firefighters, and police officers. Many of these individuals, who are essential to the success and vitality of our communities, are priced out of today’s real estate market across Pennsylvania. CORE is based on a similar concept developed by the Greater Baltimore Board of REALTORS® (GBBR) which has been in place since September 2003. The GBBR program, called SCOPE or Selling City-Owned Properties Efficiently, has sold over 270 properties for a total value to the City of Baltimore of over $6.7 million. --NEXT--
There are several goals of CORE. The first is to provide much-needed affordable housing for first-time homebuyers, teachers, firefighters, police officers and others who are essential to the economic vitality of our communities. PAR has been collecting property assessment data from each of our 67 counties. After analyzing the data, we have positively identified over 43,000 government-owned properties which would be eligible to be sold through CORE across Pennsylvania. The second goal is to help local governments generate much-needed revenue by selling government-owned properties and getting them back on the tax rolls. The g overnment officials in the room know how hard it is to balance budgets and find new sources of revenue. You also know how unpopular it is to raise taxes. Well, CORE will bring in revenue and it won’t raise taxes. It’s a win-win scenario. The last goal is to simplify and streamline the process of selling government-owned properties and help to revitalize communities . Most municipalities currently sell properties essentially as a ‘for-sale-by-owner’ enterprise, with in-house staff responsible for any marketing and negotiations. Municipalities who participate in CORE gain the benefit of working with trained Realtors® who sell property as a profession. --NEXT--
As part of the PAR Strategic Plan, our customer is the local association. With that in mind, we decided to create the framework for CORE on the state level and give our local associations a ready-made program for implementation on the local level. CORE is designed to make suggestions to municipalities, not mandates, in order to help them create a program that works for them and their individual needs. PAR local associations are the point of contact for municipalities. It is their responsibility to promote the CORE project to local municipalities, and facilitate meetings with local officials designed to introduce and “sell” the project. PAR is responsible for bringing strategic partners – such as the PA Housing Finance Agency – on board as well as raising funds to sustain the project. PAR is also responsible for public outreach and media efforts . Handouts, brochures and presentations regarding CORE for use by the local associations have been created. As an example, CORE brochures have been developed to use as a leave-behind when discussing CORE with a municipality. PAR develops and provides data and analysis regarding the CORE project and related properties, both for analytical purposes and for the purpose of ‘selling’ the program to the municipalities.
In order to help municipalities visualize the need for CORE, we developed a property mapping software to show the impact that government-owned properties have on a community. This is a screen shot of the Philadelphia area. Each green dot represents one government-owned property. As you can see, there are thousands of properties just in this one area of the state. As we zoom in on a particular area, street names become visible and location of properties becomes more clear. --NEXT--
For example, the highlighted area is north of West Girard Avenue and near Girard College. As you can see, there are some areas where entire blocks are owned by governmental entities. This area is ripe for redevelopment, and would be a prime location for a developer to buy an entire street of abandoned homes or vacant land. --NEXT--
When you click on one of the properties, a box will load that lists information from the public record, such as address, owner, current condition of the property, class of property (residential, commercial, vacant land), and county assessment. The box shows whether the property has been approved as a CORE property, and whether the property is listed for sale. --NEXT--
The software also has a zoom feature that will take the viewer down to street-level and provide a 360° view of the property and surrounding area. You can see the property is the second from right. It is boarded up and abandoned in an otherwise occupied neighborhood. The mapping component has been an invaluable tool when speaking with municipal officials about CORE, and will grow as the project expands. –NEXT--
The software is accessible through the CORE website at www.parealtorcore.com . The site includes general information on the project, as well as how Realtors® and municipalities can get involved. The website is publicly available, but access to the mapping system is limited to Realtors. --NEXT--
CORE was launched as a pilot project with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia (RDA) in February 2009. The RDA owns about 3,500 properties. The RDA allowed three REALTORS® to market nine properties, which resulted in two settled listings. Two additional properties were under contract but torn down by the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections before sale. The Greater Philadelphia Association of Realtors used existing relationships with the RDA to help launch the pilot project. The RDA had agreed to list a total of 350 properties in 2010-2011, but changes within top-levels of administration staff slowed progress. There is still a commitment from the RDA to implement CORE. In fact, Realtors in Philadelphia met with the Mayor and RDA staff two weeks ago to finalize a comprehensive program to make all city agencies part of CORE.
In January 2010, the Reading-Berks Association of Realtors starting approaching Reading city officials about CORE. The city had just been granted Act 47 status. One of the Act 47 coordinators knew the SCOPE program very well, and recommended that the CORE project be included in the Housing Strategy as a method of redevelopment for the City. The Act 47 team also encouraged meetings with the Mayor, City Council and the Reading Redevelopment Authority. RBAR already had a strong relationship with the City Clerk, and she has proven to be a champion for CORE throughout negotiations with the City of Reading. CORE also opened the doors to new relationships with the Redevelopment Authority. Communication between the City of Reading and RBAR has dramatically strengthened. RBAR has a commitment from the Redevelopment Authority of Berks County as well as the City of Reading to list government-owned properties through CORE. They are in the final stages of negotiations and hope to have properties on the market soon.
One of our main challenges is that the wheels of progress turn slowly…..very slowly . As mentioned previously, the Philadelphia pilot was launched in February 2009 and we still don’t have a finalized agreement in place. Things in Reading have moved faster but with the enthusiasm showed by all officials involved we were hoping that properties would be on the market by now. One of the great successes of CORE is that we’ve been able to strengthen existing partnerships and form some new relationships. In addition to the local relationships already discussed, on the state level, the Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania is in full support of CORE, and invited PAR to present the project at two Blight Summits in Pittsburgh and Erie last year and at their annual housing conference this November. I n addition, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) has expressed support for CORE, and is considering financial support of the project. --NEXT--
Jennifer Shockley BWH DC 2011
CORE The Community Reinvestment Project Jennifer Shockley Project Manager
WHAT IS CORE? <ul><li>The goal of the Community Reinvestment Project – CORE – is to turn government-owned properties into productive use to provide workforce housing for target markets such as first-time homebuyers, teachers, firefighters, and police officers. </li></ul>
CORE GOALS <ul><li>Provide affordable housing for individuals who are essential to the economic vitality of our communities. </li></ul><ul><li>Help local governments generate much-needed revenue . </li></ul><ul><li>Simplify and streamline the process of selling government-owned properties and help to revitalize communities . </li></ul>
CORE STRUCTURE <ul><li>PAR created framework for the project </li></ul><ul><li>Local associations are point-of-contact </li></ul><ul><li>PAR responsible for bringing strategic partners on board </li></ul><ul><li>PAR responsible for public outreach and media efforts </li></ul>
CURRENT PROJECTS <ul><li>Philadelphia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Redevelopment Authority pilot project </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2 settled listings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strengthened existing relationships </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commitment to list additional properties </li></ul></ul>
CURRENT PROJECTS <ul><li>Reading </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Act 47 status </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>City Housing Strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Realtor® champion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Commitments from RDA and City </li></ul></ul>
CHALLENGES & SUCCESSES <ul><li>Wheels of progress turn slowly….. </li></ul><ul><li>… very slowly </li></ul><ul><li>Strengthened existing partnerships and formed new relationships </li></ul>