Loading Episode...
Infinite Earth Radio – weekly conversations with leaders building smarter, more sustainable, and equitable communities - Michael Hancox EPISODE 7
The Philadelphia Land Bank and Equitable Community Development
00:00:00 00:21:07

The Philadelphia Land Bank and Equitable Community Development


Building Strong Neighborhoods and Communities


[2:27] Introduction of Frank Woodruff and Beth McConnell.

[3:16] Frank explains if the goals of equitable development and smart growth are at an impasse.

[4:35] Beth shares if she sees the issue of smart growth and equitable development as being at odds with each other.

[5:25] Beth and Frank give suggestions for how we can move past the impasse.

[7:21] Beth gives an example of a place where they think smart growth and equitable development are coming together in a synergistic way.

[8:50] Beth explains if her model can be imported to other communities.

[9:20] Beth shares the challenge in Philadelphia that the Philadelphia Land Bank seeks to solve.

[11:25] Beth shares what needs to happen to streamline the process of reacquiring properties and the role of the Philadelphia Land Bank.

[13:01] Frank tells how to encourage private investment in neighborhoods while protecting the public interest.

[16:53] Beth shares if she’s encountered a place where people have figured out how to live together.

[18:05] Frank and Beth share one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.

[18:54] Frank and Beth share one action that listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.

[19:12] Beth and Frank share what they think the world will look like 30 years from now.


Frank Woodruff is the Executive Director of the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA). Frank joined NACEDA in September 2010, becoming executive director in January 2012. During a time of significant political and economic challenges for community development, Frank saw this as an opportunity to take NACEDA to a new level of success and sustainability. As our country emerges from the great recession, he believes community and economic development will be a critical tool for those communities and neighborhoods that are organized, demanding, and capable of instituting change.

Beth McConnell is the Policy Director for the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC). PACDC represents more than 100 member organizations, including nearly 50 community development corporations, who work to develop affordable housing, revitalize commercial corridors, and stabilize Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. Beth works to advance a policy agenda that helps them do their great work.


The National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) is a national alliance of community development associations. Its member organizations are champions, stewards, and thought leaders for community development at the state and local level. With 43 association members in 28 states, more than 3,500 community-based organizations are represented by their members.

The Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC) is dedicated to advocacy, policy development and technical assistance for community development corporations and other organizations in their efforts to rebuild communities and revitalize neighborhoods. Through their policy and advocacy work, they strive to create a more supportive environment for community development activities and to enable members to more effectively meet the needs of lower income residents and advance neighborhood revitalization. In addition, they aim to build the capacity of CDCs through resource and information delivery, a sharing of ideas and practices among CDCs, technical assistance, and promotion of the community development industry. The PACDC’s vision is to see vibrant and diverse neighborhoods across Philadelphia that equitably meet the needs of all community members, preserve and enhance community assets, and foster a stronger city and region.

Today, Philadelphia has approximately 32,000 properties that are vacant and tax delinquent, 8,000 of which are publicly owned and the remainder are in private hands. Most of these – about 24,000 – are vacant lots. The structures are in various stages of disrepair; some can be stabilized and occupied, and others must be demolished. The Philadelphia Land Bank is a powerful tool to return vacant and tax-delinquent properties to productive use. It will simplify the process of transferring properties from public agencies to private owners. It can also acquire privately owned vacant parcels that are roadblocks to revitalization by foreclosing on them. And the Land Bank’s ability to clear liens from titles will make properties more attractive to potential new owners.


“We have strategies. There are things that we can do to mitigate those impacts. For example, if you are a property owner in that neighborhood and you can’t keep up with the increase in your property taxes, because your home value has gone up but your income sure has not, we can freeze people’s property taxes to allow them to stay in their home and stay in that neighborhood and enjoy the benefits of an improving community.”

”I think when people have a place to come and voice their concerns, are listened to and respected and are taken seriously, I think you can address a lot of these issues around neighborhood change.”

“The community-building process, through whatever model, works best when communities are engaged with each other across cultures and across ethnicity and across differences, and one way to do that is through the arts.”

“In thirty years, I would like to live in a world where when I turn on the news at night our differences are bringing us together and not tearing us apart.”


National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations

Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations

Philadelphia Land Bank

PACDC Magazine

Beyond Gentrification Toward Equitable Neighborhoods: An Equitable Development Policy Platform for Philadelphia

Land Bank Defeatism Solves Nothing by Beth McConnell, Policy Director for the Philadelphia Association of Community Development Corporations (PACDC)


Thanks so much for joining us. Have some feedback or an idea you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave an honest review for Infinite Earth Radio on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are super helpful and greatly appreciated as it helps us expose this show to a wider audience – plus, we read each and every one of them!