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Posted by Allegra East on Oct 23, 2017

Polis Center, City of Indianapolis, GIPC to Receive National Award for IndyVitals

The Polis Center at IUPUI, in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, are pleased to announce IndyVitals, a geospatial tool that measures the health and sustainability of neighborhood areas in Marion County, has been awarded a prestigious national award for improving the delivery and quality of government services.

IndyVitals, a legacy of Plan 2020 built by The Polis Center at IUPUI and powered by the SAVI community information system, is a 2017 recipient of the Exemplary Systems in Government Awards from URISA, a multi-disciplinary geospatial organization that fosters excellence in geographic information systems (GIS).

The user-friendly digital tool was recognized by URISA for solving a problem facing local organizations from multiple sectors: telling a common story and making meaningful comparisons about particular neighborhoods. It is unique for its ability to coordinate actions of community development partners through data and measure the long-term impact of the work of Plan 2020 partners at the neighborhood level.

“As city planning becomes more decentralized and democratized, IndyVitals allows us to carry on the spirit of coordination and cooperation coming out of the Plan 2020 process by empowering residents with a simple interface to engage complicated datasets within common geographies. This allows all partners working to build a better city to see the same story for the same place and prioritize their work accordingly,” said Brad Beaubien, Administrator of Long Range Planning,  Department of Metropolitan Development.

IndyVitals is an excellent resource for organizations involved in quality of life, social services and economic development. The tool is specifically used by city government to target investments to areas based on need. Community development corporations use the tool to justify the need for investments in their communities, social service providers use the tool to better understand the need for cross-sector collaboration to improve outcomes, and the tool empowers community organizers with data to prioritize community-improvement efforts that build upon existing community assets.

The award summary noted that IndyVitals, is “a thoughtful, deliberate and intentional data mash-up product” that “combined with high ease of use and an attractive visual appeal … makes it an excellent urban planning and neighborhood assessment tool.”

“It is an honor that URISA has recognized IndyVitals, as winner in the 2017 enterprise system category,” said David Bodenhamer, executive director of The Polis Center at IUPUI. “The collaboration with the City of Indianapolis and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee to develop a tool to support the City’s 2020 bicentennial aligns diverse planning partners toward a common goal, coordinating their actions through data. This innovative neighborhood monitoring tool is proving to be a useful solution for organizations from multiple sectors in making Indianapolis a great place to live and work.”

The award competition was open to all public agencies at the federal, state/provincial, regional and local levels. IndyVitals was officially recognized during the URISA awards ceremony October 25 in Jacksonville, Florida. You may view the IndyVitals awards video and all the winners here.

This is the second component of Plan 2020 to receive a national award. Discover more about your piece of Marion County at indyvitals.org.

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Posted by Allegra East on Oct 4, 2017

Polis Center to Host National Conference on Democratizing Data

On October 11-13, the Polis Center at IUPUI will host the semi-annual meeting of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership (NNIP), a network of independent data intermediaries across the US that have a shared mission to help community stakeholders use neighborhood-level data for better decision-making.

Eighty people representing 34 cities, along with other national leaders in community information, will gather in Indianapolis to learn how data are being used to improve the quality of life for residents in Indianapolis and other partner cities. The Polis Center at IUPUI has been a member of NNIP since 1999 and hosted the conference previously in 2007. Polis developed one of the first comprehensive online and interactive neighborhood indicators systems created for any city called SAVI. SAVI (Social Assets and Vulnerabilities Indicators) is now one of the nation’s largest community information systems and allows people to explore and map social issues such as poverty and education across neighborhoods and other geographies. Its goal is to provide actionable data to inform local decisions and policies.

Highlights from this year’s event include presentations from partner organizations from Rice University in Houston, TX and The Data Center of New Orleans discussing the critical role of data in the immediate aftermath and long-term recovery from hurricanes and other natural disasters. An Indianapolis panel of leaders from United Way of Central Indiana, John Boner Community Center, City of Indianapolis, and Parkview Health will share challenges and successes in their move toward a data informed culture.  Attendees also will learn how to build a data-driven community and how to employ user-centered design.

NNIP combines local expertise with the power of a national peer-learning network to strengthen communities. The local partner organizations are skilled in organizing and transforming data and have developed neighborhood indicators across many topics that are kept to date.  All partners have a focus on assisting organizations and residents in low-income communities. With expertise on a range of issues, NNIP partners act as conveners to connect nonprofits and government agencies across policy domains. NNIP is supported and coordinated by the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington DC. All the network activities are grounded in Urban’s decades of social and economic policy analyses. Urban elevates the collective experience from NNIP to inform local and national policy.



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Posted by Matt Nowlin on Oct 3, 2017

As Gentrification Bill Considered, Values Increasing Quickly in These Neighborhoods

A proposal in the state legislature would offer long-time homeowners in designated areas relief from rising property taxes. Indiana House Bill 1056, which was debated in a study committee last week, would cap assessed value increases at three percent for eligible homeowners (those who have owned their house for at least ten years and whose houses are assessed at $100,000 or less). WFYI covered the story here.

According to SAVI, one third of Marion County’s nearly 300,000 owner-occupied parcels has experience assessed value increases of more than three percent from 2015 to 2016. However, most of these properties were worth more than $100,000 and would not qualify for the tax relief. Fifteen percent of owner-occupied parcels are worth $100,000 or less and saw assessed value increase by more than three percent. For those households, the typical (median) household saw assessed value increase by five percent.

*Homeowners in this category, if they owned their home for more than 10 years and lived in a designated area, would qualify for the program.

While these figures show the scope of climbing property values across the city, the critical piece of this legislation is the creation of designated areas within the city where the tax-relief would apply. These are required to be mainly residential areas and cannot make up more than five percent of the city.

The law describes the characteristics of these “designated areas” (high vacancy and abandonment, but expecting a rise in market value from rehab and infill), but it does not indicate how these areas should be measured. As a starting place, policy makers could look at areas where low and moderate value homes are increasing in assessed value quickly.

This map shows, for each block group in Marion County, the number of owner-occupied homes per square mile that meet these criteria: 1) are assessed at $100,000 or less and 2) experienced an increase in assessed value of more than 3% from 2015 to 2016.

Philadelphia’s Long-Time Owner-Occupants Program is a well-known example of a similar approach. In that case, however, owners are protected from assessed value increases of more than 300 percent, meaning the law does not kick in unless a home’s value tripled in one year. Philadelphia is experiencing dramatic changes in assessed value as it adjusts assessments to better match market value. Previously, assessments had been just a fraction of market value.

Lexington, Kentucky is considering a similar program. In its version of the policy, the tax relief kicks in if value goes up by more than twelve percent. Its program is also income qualified. Indiana’s law would not allow income as an eligibility factor.

While affordable rental housing can mitigate some of the impacts of gentrification for renters, policies like these property tax relief programs could be effective for long-time homeowners. In Indianapolis, the requirements of the proposed bill offer a useful framework to analyze changing property values.


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