The Vacant Properties Community Impact Initiative (V2V)

There are an estimated 3,900 vacant houses and lots in the UNI neighborhoods. In response, UNI is leading the “Vacant to Vibrant: the Vacant Properties Community Impact Initiative” (V2V), a group of 45 community leaders representing more than 30 organizations.Active partners include federal government agencies, KCMO City Departments, developers and real estate entities, Legal Aid of Western Missouri, UMKC and the Mid-America Regional Council. V2V actions teams were formed to work on five critical parts of the process:

 

 

Committees

Clearing Titles

In May 2017 this group published Stimulating Redevelopment by Clearing Tax Sale Titles which delineated the problem, cost and potential strategies for addressing clouded titles. “Working towards insurable tax titles is the most impactful avenue for reinvestment in vacant and distressed properties in the urban core.” This document is serving as a guide to action as the group seeks resolution to this seemingly intractable problem.

Promoting Equitable Neighborhoods Properties

Three years ago, this group began work to increase demand for vacant properties in the heart of the city. It has sponsored two UNI Tour of Neighborhoods intended to provide opportunity for Kansas City metro residents to gain a more balanced view of life east of Troost, attracting over 100 people each tour. Other activities including launching three Demonstration Blocks in partnership with neighborhood associations to gain on-the- ground experiences dealing with problems common to the city; issues such as out of town landlords, gaining control of vacant and abandoned properties and bringing resources to low and moderate-income residents to get their homes up to code in efforts to create safe and healthy communities. It has now turned its attention to helping to ensure affordable homes continue to be available for low and moderate-income families.

 

Green Spaces and Urban Farms

There are many more vacant lots across the city than vacant structures. This group has just published its second addition of A Guide to Working with Lotswhich helps residents to assess lots and provides eight templates that provide detailed planning and installation instructions to create healthy and attractive green spaces. In partnership with Cultivate KC it is working on a second document that will provide all the information necessary to help individuals determine whether starting a farm as a part time commercial enterprise is for them.

 

Promoting Process Innovation and Efficiency

This action group works to delineate processes as they are and secure buy in to simplify them as needed. Accomplishments include advocating for and drafting an Urban Renewal Area tax abatement application to be for single family residences only in order to increase its use and delineating step by step how to acquire a vacant lot through the Land Bank of Kansas City. This group is also overseeing the expansion of the UNI website to host information developed by V2V groups in the areas of acquisition, financing, rehabbing of vacant properties; maintaining homes and greening of lots.

Securing Funding

This action team has researched and assembled a Financial Services Menu which lists funding sources and incentives in the areas of tax abatement, affordable housing programs, rehab and construction, energy savings and mortgage resources. It has also explored Community Land Trusts as a potential solution for maintaining affordable housing over time.

(Note: this group has recently combined with the Promoting Equitable Neighborhoods Properties Workgroup.)