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, 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


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

A.G. Schneiderman Announces $500 Million Settlement With Royal Bank Of Scotland Over Misconduct Leading Up To Financial Crisis

The Attorney General of NY, Eric Schneiderman, announced a $500 million settlement with Royal Bank of Scotland on March 6th. A portion of this settlement will be allocated to fund land banks across New York and their mission of returning blighted properties back to productive use. To read the full press release, click here

NY can become national leader in land bank success

Charles Touhey, chairman of the Albany County Land Bank's board of directors, writes in today's Albany Times Union:

"Statewide, New York's 23 land banks have leveraged more than $75 million in private investment, renovated more than 400 structures, sold more than 650 properties, and demolished more than 480 blighted structures.

However, there is no adequate funding available for New York land banks beyond the end of 2018. Land banks need adequate and reliable funding to address the significant challenge of vacant properties facing our communities.

The most successful land banks in the nation have secured recurring, adequate and predictable public funding.

With a comparable funding model, New York could bolster the state's already impressive network of land banks (already one of the largest and most active in the U.S.), reverse decades of decline, restore communities, and become the national model for combating blight and improving neighborhoods.

There is still time for our elected representatives to incorporate funding for land banks into the state budget."

Albany County Land Bank ramps up efforts, becoming 2nd largest in NY

Albany County Land Bank continues to ramp up efforts to fight blight. Read the full article here.

"Since its inception in 2014, the county Land Bank has acquired more than 600 properties — buildings and vacant lots — and sold 161, as of Oct. 11. During the last fiscal year (2016-17), the Land Bank sold 73 properties, most of them as homes for the buyers."

Irvin Ackerman, real estate sales associate for the Albany County Land Bank, hangs up signs on a building located at 29 Alexander Street on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Albany, N.Y. The Albany County Land Bank recently took over ownership of the property. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

Irvin Ackerman, real estate sales associate for the Albany County Land Bank, hangs up signs on a building located at 29 Alexander Street on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, in Albany, N.Y. The Albany County Land Bank recently took over ownership of the property. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

Blight Fighters Tout Impact of New York Land Banks

A piece in recently highlights the work that NY Land Banks have done in the five years since land banks were first created in New York.  You can find the full piece by Rachel Dovey, here.

“This significant market imbalance of supply and demand for housing is a key reason why many New York communities have wrestled with large inventories of problem properties for decades,” the report states. “And it’s under these weak housing market conditions when other barriers and challenges, legal and functional, become more obvious and onerous.”

Through the first 10 land banks created, 1,989 “problem properties” have been acquired. Of those properties, 651 have been sold to private individuals or nonprofit partners, 482 unsafe or dilapidated properties have been razed, and 400 structures have been renovated or stabilized. Cumulatively, those land banks have leveraged about $77 million in private investment and returned $28.4 million to local tax rolls.

But the report emphasizes that those dollar signs don’t paint a complete picture of just how much revitalization land banks add to community value. That goes back to all those public and private costs, in safety and neighborhood value.


New York Land Banks Set New Standard for Success: Five-Year Report Illustrates Progress in the Fight Against Blight

Today, the New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA) released New York State Land Banks: A New National Standard, summarizing the first five years of land bank activity since the state’s passage of the 2011 Land Bank Act. The report serves as a resource for local officials, state leaders, public and private funders, and other parties to learn the strategies and achievements of land banks in combating vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties.

New York State Land Banks: A New National Standard, published in partnership with the Center for Community Progress, highlights the impact of New York land banks’ critical stewardship of 1,989 acquired vacant and abandoned properties through stabilization/renovation, demolition where necessary, and responsible disposition with clear development goals and beneficial uses.  As of the end of 2016, NYLBA’s members have leveraged approximately $32 million in initial funding from the New York Attorney General’s Office to attract over $77 million in private development investment and return over $28 million in assessed value to the tax rolls. As the professional association for New York land banks, NYLBA offers legal and policy guidance, public advocacy, and a forum for sharing best practices and new ideas. A major focus of NYLBA going forward will be identifying and pursuing recurring, reliable sources of funding for the state’s land banks.

You can read the full report here.