City of Wilmington Delegation to Participate in Prestigious Leadership Institute

Posted on  02/12/2014 2:45 pm

Group will travel to the Community Progress Leadership Institute in March to formulate a plan to reduce vacant housing in Wilmington

Photo of City delegation inspecting vacant property

Mayor Dennis P. Williams, along with Sophia Hanson, the Planning Director for the City of Wilmington and Christian Willauer, Director of Community and Economic Development for Cornerstone West Community Development Corporation, announces that the City of Wilmington has been selected to attend the 2014 Community Progress Leadership Institute that will take place at Harvard Law School.

The Leadership Institute is a core project of the Center for Community Progress, an organization whose mission is to ensure that communities have the vision, knowledge, and systems to transform blighted, vacant, and other problem properties into assets supporting neighborhood vitality.

“As we clean up the City together, we also have to collaborate with one another to solve problems such as blight and vacancies. This group of corporate stakeholders, community leaders, elected officials and City administrators will be exposed to the types of innovation and tools that will be invaluable to our goal of creating a safe and livable city,” said Mayor Williams. “I am extremely proud of our ability to earn this opportunity and I appreciate the time being invested by our partners who are attending.”

Hanson and Willauer—who jointly developed the application requesting that the City of Wilmington be represented at the national event—said the City was notified that Wilmington's team was officially selected and will spend four days at the Leadership Institute beginning on March 18, 2014, to develop a strategic plan to reduce blight and vacant housing in Wilmington.

“Wilmington has approximately 22,576 single family homes of which 1,387 are currently registered with the City by their owners as vacant properties,” said Hanson. “The Community Progress Leadership Institute will provide us with the opportunity to learn new strategies to address vacant housing.”

The City of Wilmington and Cornerstone West developed a team of dedicated stakeholders from the City, County and State who have either demonstrated a long-term commitment to housing in the City, have successfully developed affordable housing and are considered to be experts in the field of vacant housing. All of the members possess a combination of experience, energy and commitment to ensure a blueprint for success.

The delegation is expected to include:

  • Paul F. Calistro, Jr., Executive Director, West End Neighborhood House
  • Theo Gregory, President of Wilmington City Council
  • Sophia Hanson, Director of the Planning Department, City of Wilmington
  • Penrose Hollins, President Pro Tem of New Castle County Council
  • Steve T. Martin, Director, Wilmington Housing Partnership
  • Jeffrey Starkey, Director of the Licenses and Inspections Department, City of Wilmington
  • Christian Willauer, Director of Community and Economic Development

The Community Progress Leadership Institute – CPLI – is a core project of the Center for Community Progress, an organization whose mission is to ensure that communities have the vision, knowledge, and systems to transform blighted, vacant, and other problem properties into assets supporting neighborhood vitality. As the premier national training institute for vacant property reclamation, CPLI is designed to empower civic leaders with the comprehensive skills they need to tackle urban blight and revitalization. It assists by helping leaders in their community to initiate and implement productive change in the ways they address vacant and abandoned properties.

CPLI held its most recent Community Progress Leadership Institute in March of 2012, gathering together 55 participants from three states for the intensive training and technical assistance on a variety of land reform concepts designed to unlock the value of forgotten urban land. CPLI gatherings have sparked national interest among elected officials and civic leaders for regular access to CPLI-convened presentations, conferences and forums, and upcoming events include conferences and gatherings on urban land utilization, preservation, land trusts and vacant properties.