January 16, 2019

Fledgling Hartford Land Bank eyes next step in blight-remediation efforts

The Hartford Land Bank, seeded with $5 million in state funds two years ago, has it's work cut out for it.

The nonprofit is setting out to conduct a survey and market assessment of properties citywide, building on the Hartford's recent blight work that has identified an estimated 400 vacant and abandoned properties. The survey will be done with the assistance of a recent $175,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.

The city's remediation efforts have helped fix up nearly 140 blighted properties as of Oct. 2018, the Hartford Courant reported. The land bank is chaired by Hartford's blight enforcement director Laura Settlemyer.

The land bank, which has the power to acquire, manage and dispose of blighted properties, plans to hire national experts who have conducted similar property surveys in other cities across the country. They will work with local partners including the city's Office of Community Engagement, Hartford GIS Services and the Hartford Youth Service Corps.

Blighted properties have significant impacts on communities, according to the foundation, imposing potential public health risks, decreasing property values and increasing the risk of fire and crime.

"Blighted properties have plagued our neighborhoods for decades, and that's why we made it a priority from the very beginning to combat blight in an aggressive and systematic way," Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement.

In 2017, the Bond Commission approved a request from the Department of Housing to provide a $5 million grant-in-aid to the Hartford Land Bank. The money had originally been allocated to a community housing land bank program.

This story has been modified to include more detail about the Hartford Land Bank's funding.

Correction: An earlier version of this story understated the scope of work planned by the land bank. It will conduct a citywide survey of Hartford properties.

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