Renewal, house by house, in Detroit
Representatives of the Detroit Land Bank Authority led a tour this week of homes in the East English Village neighborhood that are being auctioned off and rehabilitated. Officials hope to cut in half the 80,000 structures that were previously estimated to be demolished. The excursion was part of a Journalists Summit (On Twitter: #RVPSummit) organized by the Lincoln Institute and the Center for Community Progress, in association with the 2015 Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference. About two-dozen writers and editors were in attendance.
The ability to visualize data – where residents have health insurance, how close they are to a park or library, or who is going through foreclosure – has become prerequisite in citybuilding these days. It’s almost hard to imagine making policy decisions or launching initiatives without big data as a guide. And as Maggie McCullough, founder and President of PolicyMap, made clear in a presentation at the Lincoln Institute last month, the technology is getting better all the time.
Cities Increasing Reliance on Fees as Other Revenues Fall
Cities continuing to struggle with finances have been increasingly relying on user charges and fees, according to an analysis of freshly updated data from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s database on local government finance, Fiscally Standardized Cities.User charges and fees - for sewer systems, waste management, parks, city-run hospitals and airports, and for a range of services including education, housing, and community development - are the only major source of revenue that has grown since the start of the Great Recession in 2007 -- by over 7 percent on average through 2012, while property tax revenues fell by 5 percent, and revenues from state aid and from other taxes by nearly 10 percent.
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