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Disinvestment and associated property abandonment are defining features of many post-industrial legacy cities. While the reasons are varied and complex, racist law and policy are at the root. Though abandoned properties negatively affect an entire city, their effects usually disproportionately fall on neighborhoods of color. Law and policy have been major drivers of how such neighborhoods look and feel today. Because law and policy have been part of the problem, they are also a necessary part of the solution.

This kind of large-scale, multi-disciplinary problem is beyond the ability of a single institution or sector to address. Stakeholders such as local government, neighborhoods, and philanthropy have tools to address this challenge. But, to get to effective solutions in the modern community development system, they must use their respective tools in close coordination and cooperation. That requisite close coordination and cooperation require a foundation of trust and shared vision.

Local government is not only a stakeholder with tools to address disinvestment and abandonment; it is also the stakeholder with power to set the “rules of the game.” As such, it is uniquely able to set the stage for the racial healing foundational to rebuilding trust and developing a shared vision. To that end, this article recommends local governments provide a public disclosure about a property’s history as part of their development and demolition processes as a first step toward racial healing. By providing such disclosures, local governments can create conditions for the trust and shared vision needed to make existing tools far more effective. In addition, such disclosures can set the stage for further self-initiated reparative actions.