Capital Region and Mohawk Cities Working Together to Fight the Blight: Combating Urban Blight through Regional Information Sharing Pilot Project
Cities throughout the United States are facing the increasingly persistent and costly problem of blighted and vacant properties. These properties consume seemingly endless resources, depress market values, and directly affect public safety and economic development. Some studies reveal that properties follow a predictable and costly five to seven-year cycle as they move from mildly distressed to blighted or vacant and some ultimately, in need of demolition.
This cycle from distressed to demolition is difficult if not impossible in some cases to disrupt because of limited data about the status of such properties. Over the years some property owners have capitalized on this inability to share data and continue to avoid scrutiny or penalty for multiple derelict properties.
Experts believe that the cycle from blighted to demolition can be interrupted if there is access to the information necessary to identify and track this cycle combined with an understanding of the underlying systemic causes of blight. Consistent and easy access to high quality and usable data is critical for the early identification of property decline. Essentially, a city’s success in reversing the cycle of decline centers heavily on the organizational and technical infrastructure necessary to collect, manage and share property information frequently and easily within their own city, as well as with community partners, the public, other cities, and the State.
The absence of the necessary technologies, policies and practices in some small to medium sized cities is a significant barrier to the ability to combat vacant and blighted properties. New capabilities to share information would help cities shine a new light on chronic violators and allow them to proactively prevent the spread of blight.
With funding from the New York State Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency (LGe) Program, the four NYS cities of Schenectady, Troy, Amsterdam, and Gloversville have partnered with the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany to address the code enforcement information needs throughout the region in order to support the programs that target urban blight. This two year effort sets forth the following objectives:
- Build technical and organizational code enforcement capabilities within each city so each can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their own code enforcement programs.
- Develop the technical, data, and policy frameworks for a shared code enforcement information resource, laying the foundation for a future statewide network.
- Encourage increased uniformity in process and definition to enable regional information sharing.
- Establish a culture (and community) of knowledge sharing among the four cities (and others in the future) so that NYS governments can work together to fight the blight.
Regional Economic Development Council Awards
On December 11, 2014, the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC) announced the REDC awards and released the awards project list. Click the link below to learn more about the REDC awards, the Shared Code Enforcement Information Resource Pilot Project and other projects funded throughout the state.
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Officials from the cities of Schenectady, Troy, Amsterdam and Gloversville with the New York Department of State and the University of Albany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG) gathered for a press conference and workshop on May 7th, 2015 to kick off the pilot program to allow critical information sharing of code enforcement-related data. Watch the video of this press conference >