November 24, 2014 [Center for Community Progress]
Our new report, Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods, takes an in-depth look at how the Cuyahoga Land Bank serves the community in and around Cleveland, Ohio. It was established in 2009, has nearly 30 staff members and, as of March 2014, had more than 1,150 properties in its inventory. The Cuyahoga Land Bank’s operations — from robust data systems to efficient workflows to innovative homeownership programs – earn it the nickname “The Professional” in our report.
Those homeownership programs include the “Discovering Home Program,” which connects refugees to housing, and the “Homefront Veterans Home Ownership Program,” which helps veterans purchase rehabbed homes.
Strong leadership by President Gus Frangos has been a key factor in the land bank’s ability to establish a culture of efficiency and professionalism. In less than five years, despite working in one of the epicenters of the mortgage foreclosure crisis, Frangos has increased capacity from 8 to 28 staff members, established formal agreements with several major financial institutions to create efficient acquisition workflows, and has, on average, demolished more than 65 structures a month. In this excerpt from Take it to the Bank, Frangos shares advice with other land bank leaders:
– Stay on mission and execute in a professional, quality, and accurate manner
– Maintain a good and interactive office culture
– Deliver good customer service to the public, the land bank board, elected officials, and community stakeholders
– Be transparent and accountable
– Deepen public buy-in through communications, collaborations, and information
– Engage in statewide policy and advocacy efforts
– Engage in research advocacy
– Push the envelope and expand collaborations
Curious to know more about the Cuyahoga Land Bank’s story — as well as the stories of other land banks in the U.S.? Download Take it to the Bank: How Land Banks Are Strengthening America’s Neighborhoods here.