Empowering Land Banks: How They Can Help Cities Tackle Blight and Save Taxpayers Money

Photo by Matt HowellPhoto by Matt Howell

By Ro Selvey—

MUNCIE, IN—Land banks are nonprofit organizations that play a vital role in revitalizing communities by helping to transform vacant and abandoned properties into vibrant assets. While in many cases land banks operate independently, cities can significantly enhance their impact by providing financial support.

In 2017, the city of Muncie took a proactive step by establishing an ordinance supporting the creation of a land bank, thanks to the support of the Muncie City Council. This move demonstrates the city’s commitment to addressing blight and revitalizing neighborhoods.

  • Responsive Local Ownership: Land banks can acquire, address safety concerns, clear encumbrances, and prevent further deterioration of vacant and abandoned properties. This helps to stabilize property values and respond to nuisance complaints.
  • Preserve Salvageable Affordable Housing Stock: Land banks can intervene early to prevent the complete deterioration of houses, reducing the need for costly demolitions. They can seal up properties and hold them until resources and skills align for successful rehabilitation.
  • Strategic Development: Land banks strategically assemble clusters of properties, facilitating medium-scale development projects by collaborating with local developers, community organizations, and stakeholders.
  • Align Reuse with Neighborhood Needs: By engaging with residents and community groups, land banks can prioritize projects that align with neighborhood needs and priorities. This often leads to the creation of community gardens, green spaces, and public art, strengthening social bonds and improving overall quality of life.
  • Partnerships Promoting Homeownership: Collaborating with community development corporations, land banks can help first-time homebuyers acquire affordable homes, thus promoting homeownership and family equity.

By financially supporting land banks, cities like Muncie can empower these organizations to create positive change, improve lives, and build thriving communities.

Let’s recognize the potential of land banks and invest in their continued success.


Ro Selvey is in her second term as City of Muncie’s Councilwoman at Large and a 26 year Awards Winning educator with Muncie Community Schools. She currently serves on the Finance Committee, Environmental Affairs, and Tax Abatement Committee. Ro is member of the Muncie Black Chamber, and President and founding member of the Riverfront District committee.