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 the better use of data, conduct a community survey, and develop new public information brochures.
- Phase III (2017) VPR Network received a grant from the Youngstown Foundation to streamline the city’s property maintenance appeals hearing process and develop financing strategies so low-income homeowners can make the necessary safety and home preservation repairs. Building on the work in Phases I and II, we are also seeking additional support to develop a performance measurement data dashboard, and institutionalize the Policies and Procedure Manual through a series of intensive training.