Why Richmond Needs a Land Bank
The distribution and use of land are key to Richmond's history.
While a land bank cannot single-handedly remedy every injustice of the past, the context of our city's history helps us understand why a land bank is an important tool for moving toward greater social equity.
Richmond's real estate market is heating up, but the benefits are unevenly distributed.
An increasing number of the City’s neighborhoods have seen dramatic growth in home prices and property values over the past ten years. On the other hand, many neighborhoods in Richmond still suffer from significant numbers of abandoned properties that lower property values and challenge residents’ efforts to improve the community. These trends perpetuate spatial patterns of inequality.
We must improve the process to return tax delinquent properties to productive use.
The current tax auction process generates needed revenue but does not build stronger communities.
The City of Richmond currently auctions most tax delinquent properties to the highest bidders. Although these auctions provide significant, immediate revenue to the City, neighborhoods where many of these properties are located do not receive significant change. Just one in three tax delinquent properties auctions from 2010 to 2017 has been significantly rehabilitated or developed. The remainder sit unimproved, unused, or vacant. Land banks provide an alternative conduit for the disposition of tax delinquent properties. By soliciting citizen and nonprofit input, land bank establish community-driven processes for the transformation of delinquent and vacant properties.
Recent direct sale activities to non-profits is insufficient.
In accordance with state law, the City may initiate a direct sale of certain tax delinquent properties to qualified nonprofit organizations to support affordable housing and other community-oriented development. To date, fewer than 30 properties have been transferred to five nonprofits via this method.
How will we do it?