Zombies breathe life into sustainable housing summit

Policymakers, municipal officials and state agencies aim to bring New York state’s unused housing – downtrodden dwellings and distressed vacant eyesores – back from the dead.

To do that, Cornell’s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) hosts “From Zombies to Vacants to Sustainable Housing: Building Resilient Communities,” a symposium Oct. 23-24 at Warren Hall on the Cornell campus. The symposium will feature talks, panels, workshops and discussion on strategies, trends and policies.

Cornell impacting New York State

“Vacant housing in its many forms throughout New York state is partly a result of continued fallout from the foreclosure crisis a decade ago, and partly a result of shrinking population and the loss of industry and employment,” said organizer Robin Blakely-Armitage, senior extension associate at CaRDI.

The symposium’s first day will feature Mehrsa Baradaran, professor of law at University of California, Irvine, and author of “Jim Crow Credit” and “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.” Baradaran will participate in a facilitated conversation with Jamila Michener, Cornell associate professor of government, whose work centers on the politics of poverty, race and public policy.

A panel with Aaron Bartley, executive director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo; Daniel Lichter, Cornell professor of policy analysis and management; and Wade Beltramo, general counsel, New York Conference of Mayors, will discuss “The View at 30,000 Feet: Demographic, Policy and Practice Challenges.”

The symposium’s agenda will include discussion of housing’s connections to impacts on economic revitalization; health and well-being; community crime and safety; inequality; and climate change and resiliency.

“As we look at the vacancy and affordable housing issues in New York state as a component of broader community revitalization, we will cast an eye toward the available and potential solutions that include the use of planning, technology, partnerships, meaningful and broad community engagement, and financial resources,” said event co-organizer Helene Caloir, director of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s (LISC) New York State Housing Stabilization Fund.

In addition to CaRDI and LISC, partners for the symposium include Rust2Green and Cornell’s Office of Engagement Initiatives.

Online registration is open; registration fee is $125, with a few sponsored spots available for students. Click here for more information and to register.

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Gillian Smith