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The Philadelphia Land Bank has its first full-time executive director

Glenwood Green Acres community garden. (Photo via Flickr user Tony Fischer, used under a Creative Commons license) August 28, 2017 Category: PeopleShort

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Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that all the seats for the land bank board have been filled. (8/29, 2:18 p.m.)
At long last, after its creation back in 2013 and delayed launch near the end of 2015, the Philadelphia Land Bank has found its first full-time executive director.

The board of directors for the local government entity in charge of handling titles for vacant, tax-delinquent land and properties in Philly held a meeting last week to appoint Angel Rodriguez as ED, as well as Steve Cusano for senior counsel to the organization.

Rodriguez currently serves as the VP of community economic development for Asociación Puertorriqueños En Marcha (APM), where he’s been involved in work relating to housing development, community outreach, economic development and food access.

Philly is the largest city in the United States with a land bank — and it needs it, in a city with tens of thousands of vacant properties.

Reporting from PlanPhilly details a three-month-long process behind the appointment, in addition to plenty of positive support for Rodriguez coming from folks like David Feldman, director of the Development Workshop, a local building trade nonprofit; Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sanchez, who was the original sponsor behind the bill creating the land bank; Council President Darrell Clarke and Nora Lichtash, the vocal ED of the affordable housing-focused Women’s Community Revitalization Project.

“He has a sense of neighborhood needs and has no personal agenda about where the land goes,” Feldman told PlanPhilly.

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Mayor Jim Kenney also appointed three of his own members to the land bank board: Dominique Casimir, deputy commissioner for real estate management at the Department of Public Property; Christian Dunbar, deputy city treasurer; and Lauren Vidas, a community advocate with South of South Neighborhood Association.

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