By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer
HARTFORD — Blighted properties in Hartford are scheduled to get some much needed attention.
Thanks to a $175,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving. The grant will help the Hartford Land Bank to assess about 400 vacant and abandoned properties in the city.
“The Hartford Foundation is proud to support this collaborative community effort that will help to revitalize the City of Hartford to improve the quality of life for residents, attract new businesses and create jobs,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams.
The Land Bank is a new arm of city hall that has the power to buy, manage and dispose of blighted properties in an effort to revitalize the city. It was created in 2017 with the help of a $5 million state grant. The Land Bank is also a resource to assist vulnerable property owners, including the elderly, by providing resources they need to maintain their properties.
Laura Settlemyer is the enforcement director for the Blight Remediation Team that works with the Land Bank. The remediation team already consists of inspectors and enforcement officers. However, the city plans to hire national experts to survey properties in the city. They will collaborate with the city’s Office of Community Engagement, Hartford GIS Services and the Hartford Youth Service Corps.
At a town hall meeting in October 2018, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city has been looking at how it can be more effective in dealing with blight in the city.
Blight is a public health issue. According to a 2017 study by the Urban Institute, families living near vacant homes, abandoned buildings and vacant lots saw lower literacy scores for pre-k children and higher rates of chronic illness, stunted brain and physical development.
Other social impact include decreased property values and increased crime.
“Blighted properties have plagued our neighborhoods for decades, and that’s why we made it a priority from the very beginning to combat blight in an aggressive and systematic way,” Bronin said. “The Land Bank will help us accelerate that work and this generous funding will give us and all of our partners a more detailed roadmap for the entire city.”
Since 2017, 137 of blighted properties have been fixed up, officials said. The plan, they said, is to “use every tool we can.”
Bronin said the team is willing to work with property owners.