Take the Blight Fight Home: Monday Summit

Homes Within Reach Conference Logo2012 Homes Within Reach Conference

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania | December 3-5, 2012

SPECIAL ONE-DAY SUMMIT: The latest strategies to fight blight and reclaim vacant land! Sponsored by TD Bank

Co-sponsored by the PA State Association of Boroughs

The sessions are by practitioners, for practitioners: municipal leaders, community development professionals, and anyone with a stake in tackling blight in their communities. The summit runs concurrently with the rest of the program at the adjacent Temple University campus at Strawberry Square, a short indoor walk away. Come for just the day, or stay for the full conference and receive a reduced rate!

10:30am Blight Summit Welcome

Representative John TaylorSenator Dave ArgallLiability to Viability: Tools from the State to Reclaim our Communities


Hear from the legislators who brought you land banks, permit denials, asset attachment and more. Senator Argall and Representative Taylor are passionate leaders in the fight against blight.


  • Senator Dave Argall
  • Representative John Taylor

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10:45am Blight Summit Plenary

Envisioning Renewal

What potential lies within the eyesores in your community? What will it take to polish that diamond in the rough? Is it worth the investment? How can you use land banks to tie all the pieces together? Learn about the economic impact of blight – and of reinvestment. Hear success stories from local pioneers in and out of Pennsylvania.


  • Kim Graziani, Center for Community Progress
  • Lee Huang, Econsult
  • Mayor J. Richard Gray, Lancaster PA 

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12:00pm Pick up a box lunch (provided) on your way to your first workshop

12:30pm Blight Summit Workshops – choose one of three

Working with Foreclosed Properties (E1)

Foreclosure has the potential to create more blighted properties, but it can be prevented. Learn strategies for working with lenders to maintain properties, keeping them from becoming blighted. Find out the best ways to acquire foreclosed houses and get them back onto the market. 

Moderator: Cindy Daley, Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania


  • Mary Beth Dougherty, Senator Argall's Office
  • Michael Halpern, Safeguard
  • Jeremey Newberg, Capital Access, Inc.
  • Dawn Stockmo, National Community Stabilization Trust

Land Banks (E2)

You’ve heard a lot about land bank legislation, but what will a land bank in your community actually look like? Hear from local and national experts on how to get started, build support, and design a business model. What are the various roles a land bank can play and how can you make it work for your community?

Moderator: Kyra Straussman, Urban Redevelopment Authority


  • John Carpenter, Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority
  • Kim Graziani, Center for Community Progress
  • Kendall Pelling, East Liberty Development, Inc.

Getting Ahead of the Curve: A Proactive Approach to Code Enforcement (E3)

Cities are taking a new approach: using code enforcement to maintain and improve communities rather than just responding to complaints. Local officials will share their successes with ticketing, block by block sweeps, citing for broken windows and doors, rental licensing, and pre-sale inspections. 

Moderator: Ron Grutza, Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs


  • Maura Kennedy, City of Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections
  • Dave Paulus, City of Allentown

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2:30pm Blight Summit Break presented by TD Bank

3:00pm Blight Summit Workshops – choose one of three

Escalating Enforcement: Creative Uses of Civil and Criminal Statutes (E4)

Will jail time motivate that recalcitrant owner? What about attaching his assets or seizing his property? Learn how to use racketeering, drug trafficking, and other laws to address blighted properties. And perhaps most importantly, learn how to work with your local courts. 

Moderator: Irene McLaughlin, Equity Protection Legal Clinic at NeighborWorks Western PA


  • Joan London, Kozloff Stoudt, PC
  • Kevin McCarthy, Allegheny County District Attorney's Office

Integrating Blight-Fight Strategies into Neighborhood Plans (E5)

Blighted property does not exist in isolation; it is located in communities. For redevelopment to work, it needs to fit within the larger plan for neighborhood improvement. Learn about communities that have taken a comprehensive approach to rejuvenation, including addressing blighted properties. 

Moderator: John Kromer, Fels Institute of Government, University of Pennsylvania


  • Jerome Jackson, Operation Better Block
  • Denise McGregor Armbrister, Wells Fargo Regional Foundation/CDC
  • Kathy Possinger, Community Action Commission
  • Lamar Wilson, Wells Fargo

Conservatorship: Taming the Beast (E6)

Local leaders and residents now have a tool to take private action to reclaim blighted properties, especially those beastly properties that have not responded to traditional code enforcement. Find out how conservatorship can work in your community to get difficult properties into responsible hands. 

Moderator: Judy Berkman, Regional Housing Legal Services


  • Ed Brennan, Attorney-At-Law
  • Maura Kennedy, City of Philadelphia
  • Perry O'Malley, Butler County Housing Authority
  • Rich Vanderslice, Attorney-at-Law

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