In Our Opinion: Land bank offers real option for vacant properties

In an opinion piece featured on The Daily Star (Oneonta), land banks were highlighted as a tool that can be used to address vacant problem properties. Officials from the City of Oneonta have been exploring the possibility of partnering with the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank. 

"It’s important to secure vacant buildings to keep them from being used for nefarious purposes or become havens for feral cats and wildlife, but we’d like to see a process to more quickly move those properties from vacant status to one of responsible human habitation."

Land banks are effective entities designed to responsibly dispose of vacant and abandoned properties. 

Albany land bank program offers mentoring for first-time home buyers

The Albany County Land Bank recently introduced a new pilot program designed to create more first-time homeowners in neighborhoods that have a more robust rental population. The Equitable Ownership Pilot Program will pair buyers with a rehab mentor and other resources to help them through the process of renovating their first home.

“This is our attempt to use our abilities, powers and resources to give a boost to people and increase home ownership in our focus neighborhoods,” Executive Director Adam Zaranko said.

For a closer look at the program details, visit the Land Bank's website. Read the Albany Times Union article featuring the program here.

Land bank moves to salvage abandoned properties

The Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank (GMVLB) will be collaborating with the village of Cherry Valley in Otsego County to help address vacant and blighted properties. In addition to passing the Resolution of Engagement, the Cherry Valley Village Board passed the Land Bank's 5/50 Resolution which states that "50 percent of the real property taxes on properties within the Village of Cherry Valley purchased from the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank be remitted to the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank for a period of five years." This remittance is then reinvested into other blighted properties in the Land Bank's operating footprint. 

Executive Director of GMVLB Tolga Morawksi said "Cherry Valley is a beautiful place, and by collaborating with the municipal government and community volunteers, we can begin to address blighted properties there." 

For the full story, click here.

 

Wayne County Land Bank gets hands on first properties

After receiving its certificate of incorporation from the state, the Wayne County Regional Land Bank Corporation has acquired its first three properties. The Land Bank will now evaluate each property based on condition to determine the best course of action. 

"The ultimate goal is to improve communities by reducing the number of properties that may be deemed unsightly and/or unsafe and which could be negatively affecting neighborhoods — and dragging down property values in the process."

To read more, read the article featured in the FInger Lakes Times.

Can 'land banks' help rebuild post-industrial U.S. cities?

Land banks are becoming more and more recognized as an effective tool to use in the fight against vacant and abandoned properties. New York's strong network of land banks continue to serve as a national model of bringing vacant properties back into productive use.

Buffalo Erie Niagra Land Improvement Coporation (BENLIC) "aims to take on the parcels of land it feels will have the biggest impact in a neighbourhood." Jocelyn Gordon, Executive Director of BENLIC, said "if there's a demolition on a lot in a marketable neighborhood, and we can strengthen that block, that's the most fulfilling part."

Visit the Thomson Reuters Foundation website to read more about BENLIC's approach to land banking and for a snapshot of land banks across the country.

Nearly 40 more vacant, run-down buildings will be demolished in Schenectady

The Capital Region Land Bank in Schenectady is partnering with Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority and The Community Builders to demolish 39 vacant and blighted buildings. 

“Vacant, blighted zombie properties are not welcome in Schenectady County," Richard Ruzzo,hairman of the Land Bank and Schenectady County legislator, said in a prepared statement. "They hurt the individuals and families who want to invest in our neighborhoods and create hazards for our first responders. We want safe, livable housing in our community."

Great to see this joint effort to eliminate blight in NYS. Check out the Albany Business Review article for more information.

Land Bank on the hunt for Utica's zombie properties

The Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank has acquired a zombie property in Utica in attempts to bring vacant and abandoned properties back into productive use. 

"Since joining the Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank, we now have a new tool in our toolbox to combat this epidemic and bring pride and safety back to our neighborhoods,” said Utica Common Councilman Joseph Marino, the land bank’s treasurer, saying the organization purchased the property to do “what’s right by the neighbors and not by the bottom line.”

GMVLB's Executive Director Tolga Morawski said “the goal is to have every property we take on completed and back on the market within a year. Whether that’s as a side lot or a rehabbed home, either way, we don’t want to be sitting on a big inventory of properties. We want to keep them moving.”

Read more about GMVLB's focus on zombie properties here.

Albany County Land Bank’s Spend a Little, Get a LOT! Returns

The Albany County Land Bank is accepting applications from June 1-30 for lots selected for their Spend a Little, Get a LOT! program. The program has been expanded this year to include not just homeowners on the same block as the participating lot but established renters as well. For more information on the program and a list of available lots, visit the Land Bank's website.

“The Land Bank’s discounted lot initiative allowed me to purchase a lot that sat vacant for years across the street from my home. I can see this little plot of land outside my front windows, and every day I would imagine the possibilities,” said Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, a City of Albany resident who purchased a lot in the South End Neighborhood through the program last year. “I am thankful for the financial accessibility of this program which empowered me to purchase a piece of property that is blooming with potential!”

Additional press coverage:

 

Sullivan County Land Bank Targets Blight in Liberty and Monticello

Sullivan County Land Bank recently acquired 13 tax-foreclosed + abandoned properties in Liberty and Monticello. The Land Bank will be renovating four of the properties, while the remaining nine will be demolished due to poor conditions. The hope is that these property interventions will spur revitalization in Sullivan County.

Check out WAMC Northeast Public Radio's article "Sullivan County Land Bank Kicks of Demolitions" and Spectrum News Hudson Valley's article "Sullivan County Land Bank Focuses on Monticello and Liberty" for more coverage on the Land Bank's initiative.

Ogdensburg Land Bank Corporation Approved by ESD

On Tuesday, May 29, 2018 Empire State Development approved the Ogdensburg Land Bank Corporation, making it the 25th land bank formed in NYS. The Ogdensburg Land Bank Corporation will join in the effort to address blight and vacancy across the state.

“The designation for Ogdensburg is an absolutely critical component in this city’s ability to turn things around. I think we will see visually, the difference that the land bank has made, within three years.” City Manager Sarah Purdy

To read more about the newly formed land bank, visit the Watertown Daily Times and North Country Now.

Land Bank continues to chip away at ‘zombie’ properties in Seneca County

The Finger Lakes Regional Land Bank is making strides in their efforts to reduce blight and vacancy in Seneca County.

Joe McGrath, CEO of the Finger Lakes Regional Land Bank,  stated “With the support of the County, the Land Bank has been able to leverage the institutional knowledge of the real property tax office and the county codes department to begin to seriously confront systemic vacancy and abandonment in Seneca County."

To read the full article on Ithaca.com, click here.

Land Banks and the Vacant Property Problem

NYLBA President Adam Zaranko sat down for an interview with Impact Lenders Podcast to discuss ways NYS Land Banks are addressing vacant and abandoned properties all across the state. Listen to the episode for more info on the creative solutions NYS Land Banks are using to combat vacancy and the importance of funding this work.

NYLBA Podcast.jpg

Listen to the episode below or visit the Impact Lenders Podcast website.

Wayne County Land Bank goal: improving neighborhoods

The Wayne County Regional Land Bank Corporation will become another tool used to address blight across the region. Like other land banks across New York State, Wayne County Regional Land Bank Corporation "will acquire vacant, abandoned and underutilized properties through the county’s tax foreclosure auction, by donation or purchase."

The Land Bank's Board of Directors stated that "the intent is to utilize the Land Banks’ limited resources in those areas where they can have the most beneficial impact.” In order for the Land Bank to be successful and make a lasting, positive impact on Wayne County, sufficient funding is imperative.

Read the full story featured in the Finger Lake Times here.

Steuben County Land Bank Corporation nearing completion of two rehabs

The Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation purchased two properties in Corning, NY in September 2017. The Land Bank is fully rehabbing 161 Kingsbury Avenue and 232 Onondaga Street with work expected to wrap up late April and mid-May, respectively. The homes will be listed for sale upon completion.

“The work that has been done is just incredible,” Steuben County Manager Jack Wheeler said. “A lot of progress has been made and this work will really improve the neighborhood.”

Read the full story here.

For a first look

BROOME COUNTY LAND BANK ANNOUNCES COMPLETION OF RENOVATED HOUSES

On April 4th, the Broome County Land Bank Corporation announced the completion of two fully renovated homes--one each in Vestal, NY and Binghamton, NY. The Land Bank partnered with NYS Homes and Community Renewal, Broome County, and the First Ward Action Council to complete these full rehabs. 

"We are excited to provide affordable housing opportunities to the community," said Margaret Scarinzi, Executive Director of the Broome County Land Bank Corporation.

For more information on the project, check out the article featured on Spectrum News.

Kingston City Land Bank Receives Empire State Development Approval

Empire State Development (ESD) approved the establishment of the Kingston City Land Bank (KCLB) on March 29th, making it NYS's 24th land bank. The next step for KCLB is to file for a Certificate of Incorporation and begin recruitment for their Board of Directors.

“This is an exciting opportunity for our community to address deteriorating properties and promote home ownership, ultimately strengthening our neighborhoods and improving the quality of life of our residents,” said Mayor Noble. “I appreciate the vote of confidence Empire State Development has shown Kingston and am committed to leveraging this opportunity even further to build a community in which every resident has access to good, quality housing.”

The current legislative cap for land banks in New York is 25. ESD will continue to accept applications until the 25th land bank is approved. To read more about the formation of the Kingston City Land Bank, click here.

Land Bank and Habitat revive zombie property

The Capital Region Land Bank and Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County, Inc. recently joined forces to fully rehab a vacant building in Schenectady's Mount Pleasant neighborhoods. 

"Richard Ruzzo, a county legislator and chair of the Capital Region Land Bank, praised the collaboration between Habitat and the Land Bank. 'These are the partnerships that continue to revitalize and strengthen our neighborhoods,' he said."

Find the full story on The Daily Gazette

 

A.G. Schneiderman Announces $230 Million Settlement With UBS Over Misconduct Leading Up To Financial Crisis

The NYS Attorney General announced a $230 million settlement with UBS on March 21st. A portion of this settlement will be directed toward land banks to continue working toward revitalizing communities across New York State.

“Years later, New Yorkers are still recovering from the housing crash, as communities grapple with the effects of plummeting home values, vacant properties, and an affordable housing crisis,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s settlement marks another key step forward as New Yorkers rebuild their lives and communities. The dollars we’ve secured have funded critical housing programs across New York – and this settlement means even more community revitalization work in the years to come.”

“I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s true and lasting commitment to the recovery of communities across New York crippled by the financial crisis,” said Madeline Fletcher, Executive Director, Newburgh Community Land Bank. “In our work as land banks, these funds have exponentially enhanced our impact as we address blight, revitalize neighborhoods and continue to improve the quality of life of thousands of New Yorkers. We are so grateful for his continued support and visionary leadership.”

“Thank you to Attorney General Schneiderman for holding large financial institutions accountable for their role in the financial crisis and for reinvesting the settlement funds back into our communities,” said Adam Zaranko, President of the New York Land Bank Association and Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank. “Thanks to the Attorney General’s leadership, New York State has developed one of the most active networks of land banks in the United States. These much-needed funds will help revitalize neighborhoods throughout the state and transform foreclosed, vacant or abandoned properties into safe and affordable homes for more New Yorkers.”

To read the full press release, click here.

Assembly budget bill includes $20 million for New York land banks

The NYS Assembly budget currently includes $20 million to be allocated to land banks. Assemblyman William Mangnarelli of Syracuse chairs the Local Governments Committee and was a big advocate for including land bank funding in the state's budget. "I think it's important we continue to support the land banks because they're a way to invigorate neighborhoods in urban areas," Magnarelli said.

For more information, visit the Albany Business Review's story