There will be three plenary sessions at this year’s Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference, featuring some of the top voices in the field.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Milwaukee Perspectives: Partnering to Support Inclusive Neighborhood Revitalization

As the “return to the city” movement takes hold and the post-recession economy improves, American cities, including Milwaukee, are experiencing a surge of private, market-driven investment downtown. However, low-income neighborhoods often struggle to attract the same degree of interest and financing. Given that federal stimulus funds that supported development in such neighborhoods during the foreclosure crisis are no longer available, cities must forge new partnerships, policies and strategies to achieve equitable development in areas most impacted by vacancy. In this opening plenary, Milwaukee leaders will describe local efforts designed to support inclusive revitalization. They’ll discuss how cross-sector initiatives are leveraging resources and a shared vision for building neighborhoods throughout the city.

Moderator: Ellen Lee, Director of Community and Economic Development, City of New Orleans, and Board Member, Center for Community Progress (Bio)
Speakers: Sharon Adams, Co-Founder, Walnut Way Conservation Corporation (Bio); The Honorable Tom Barrett, Mayor, City of Milwaukee (Bio); Susan Lloyd, PhD, Executive Director, Zilber Family Foundation (Bio); Julia Taylor, President, Greater Milwaukee Committee (Bio)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in America’s Older Cities

Alan Mallach, Senior Fellow, Center for Community Progress (Bio)

Light rail lines in Detroit, $5000/month apartments in St. Louis, and million dollar condos in Center City Philadelphia. The cities are back…or are they? Yes, the urban revival is real, but at the same time, in these same cities, millions of families and hundreds of neighborhoods are losing ground, families becoming poorer, and their communities increasingly blighted. This keynote speaker, Alan Mallach, Community Progress senior fellow and author of the important new book, The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America, will talk about what’s really going on in America’s older cities. He will explain the forces that are driving their revival and why that revival is so uneven, why it is not reaching so many of these cities’ people and neighborhoods, and why it is actually making our cities more polarized and more segregated places. He will talk about what can be done, and why change needs to happen at the local level, city by city, by building from the ground up.

Special Pre-Release and Book Signing for The Divided City: Poverty and Prosperity in Urban America by Alan Mallach (Island Press, June 2018):

Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference attendees will have the special opportunity to purchase an advance copy of Alan Mallach’s new book on-site at the conference prior to its June 12 public release! Immediately following the keynote address, Alan Mallach will be available to sign copies of the book.


Thursday, May 17, 2018

12:30 pm – 2:00 pm

Environmental Justice in Action: A Vision for Equitable Community Revitalization

Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice, & Community Revitalization, Hip Hop Caucus (Bio)

To achieve equitable community revitalization, environmental justice concerns have to be front and center. The communities that are most severely impacted by vacancy and abandonment—disproportionately low-income and communities of color—are almost invariably also the places that have borne the brunt of environmental injustices. At the property level, this includes such harms as contaminated soil, lead dust, and illegal dumping. At the societal level, these harms include a range of investment and policy decisions that prioritize the health and wellbeing of some communities over others. How can communities ensure that the work to reclaim vacant properties also works to right environmental wrongs—both past and present? Mustafa Santiago Ali, who serves as senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice, and Community Revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus after 24 years with the EPA, will close the conference with his vision for how to confront these challenges and move forward together.

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