WASHINGTON, D.C. – Baltimore, Maryland; High Point, North Carolina; and Rockford, Illinois, are the latest recipients of the Center for Community Progress’ Technical Assistance Scholarship Program (TASP). Through TASP, the Center for Community Progress (Community Progress), a national nonprofit, will help these local governments and other stakeholders break new ground in their efforts to address property vacancy, abandonment and tax delinquency.

The three recipients were chosen through a competitive application process. Proposed projects are reviewed on a range of criteria, including the potential for innovation from which other cities can learn, demonstrated leadership to implement reform, overall scale of vacancy challenges and need for outside assistance.

“We couldn’t be more excited to begin work in Baltimore, High Point and Rockford,” said Tamar Shapiro, president and CEO of the Center for Community Progress. “Each of these places demonstrates that they are willing and ready to pioneer new approaches to vacancy that other cities can learn from. We see huge potential for positive reforms that will benefit community residents.”

Each city will receive assistance from a team of national experts over six months between March 2016 and September 2016. Assistance may include a diagnosis of the most pressing problems, evaluation of current systems and strategies, and recommendations on solutions that involve key City decision-makers, residents and other stakeholders. Grant funding from JPMorgan Chase provides the majority of the program’s support.

In Rockford, technical assistance will focus on developing an early alert system to identify the warning signs of potential vacancy and abandonment. This project will also emphasize the need to better coordinate ongoing blight remediation efforts among various City departments, lenders, nonprofits and residents, while also supporting current owner-occupants and tenants in order to prevent further neighborhood decline. The primary local partners on the TASP project are the Community and Economic Development Department and a consortium of social service agencies and neighborhood stakeholders.

“The City of Rockford has suffered ongoing challenges due to the fallout of the Great Recession and the housing foreclosure crisis,” said Mayor Lawrence J. Morrissey. “This Technical Assistance scholarship will help us respond to these challenges applying national best practices to support the City and all of our local partners.”

“Congratulations to City leadership in obtaining this technical assistance. I look forward to my team working with the City to improve neighborhood conditions and advancing our City. This is a great opportunity to come together as unified community solutions providers.” Ron Clewer, CEO RHA

Since its founding in 2010, the Center for Community Progress has provided technical assistance to more than 200 communities across 30 states. Community Progress launched TASP in early 2014 in response to two needs: first, the need to develop fresh approaches to problem properties that could become models for cities to replicate, and second, the need to provide individual cities with affordable, high-quality guidance in the fight to remediate blighted, vacant properties.