Code enforcement programs in older industrial “legacy cities,” like Youngstown, confront an enormous policy challenge—how to address increasing inventories of vacant and abandoned properties with limited staff and resources. Thanks to grants from the Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Youngstown Foundation, VPR Network is leading a three-year technical assistance project to transform the City of Youngstown’s Property Code Enforcement and Demolition Program into a more strategic, systematic operation. Led by Urban Institute Senior Researcher, Joe Schilling, the VPR Network team of code enforcement (CE) experts (Mark Frater and Doug Leeper) have been working with Mayor John McNally, the Property Code Superintendent Abigail Beniston and her staff to develop and implement a multi-year action plan which outlines what the city and its community partners can do to make code enforcement in Youngstown more proactive and strategic.
- Phase I (2015) the team completed a policy assessment and process maps to identify core recommendations for improving the city’s code enforcement program.
- Phase II (2016) the team worked with city code enforcement leaders and staff to build new policies and procedures, expand their capacity through better use of data, conduct a community survey, and develop new public information brochures.
- Phase III (2017) the VPR Network is seeking additional support so that it can design and develop a performance movement data dashboard, overhaul the city’s property maintenance appeals process, develop a financing strategy so low-income homeowners who appear before the appeals board can repair their homes, and institutionalize the policies and procedure manual through a series of intensive training.