Local land banks get $20.9 million in grants from AG’s Office

Using funds from banks that played a part in the national housing crisis, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced $20.9 million in new grants for 19 land banks statewide — programs aimed at putting abandoned properties back on the tax rolls.

This brings the total funding to $57 million for such programs over the last three years.

“Communities throughout New York are still suffering the fallout from the housing crisis,” said Schneiderman, “and my office will continue to support innovative efforts to help them recover.”

The grants were awarded under the Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative. Established by the Office of the Attorney General in 2013, the initiative secured funding through settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis and recession that began in 2007.

The following grants were announced:

● Albany County Land Bank Corporation $1.04 million;
● Broome County Land Bank Corporation $650,870;
● Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation $1.23 million;
● Capital Region Land Reutilization Corporation $1.7 million;
● Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation $1.11 million;
● Greater Syracuse Property Development Corporation $2 million;
● Newburgh Community Land Bank $2 million;
● Rochester Land Bank Corporation $1.5 million;
● Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation $1.23 million;
● Troy Community Land Bank $701,587;
● Allegany County Land Bank $360,000;
● Cattaraugus County Land Bank $764,625;
● Finger Lakes Regional Land Bank $500,000;
● Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank $1.64 million;
● Nassau County Land Bank $1.21 million;
● Oswego County Land Bank $1 million;
● Sullivan County Land Bank $920,000;
● Chemung County Land Bank $893,100;
● Steuben County Land Bank $500,000

Each land bank will use its funds for programs unique to its representational area. Specifically, some of the programs funded include helping distressed neighborhoods; assisting first-time homeowners purchasing vacant homes with subsidies for renovations; and acquiring vacant and abandoned properties for either stabilization, rehabilitation or demolition.

“With today’s round of grants, all 19 land banks will build upon the significant accomplishments already achieved over the past three years, helping put abandoned properties back into use, revitalizing towns and cities and creating a safer, more stable and more vibrant environment for New York’s families,” Schneiderman said.

As of November 2016, a report on the land bank initiative from the Office of the Attorney General, titled “Revitalizing New York State,” shows the New York land banks had:

● Reclaimed more than 1,995 abandoned properties;
● Returned more than 700 properties to market;
● Demolished 409 unstable structures;
● Preserved $19 million in property value for surround homes

This round of funding provides renewal grants to the state’s original ten land banks as well as start-up grants to nine more newly established land banks, including those in rural areas.

The attorney general was joined for the announcement by Saretha Sotomayor. The Sotomayor family are the new owners of a long-vacant home.

“My family lived for a time in a homeless shelter, so my husband and I are so grateful for the opportunity the Albany County Land Bank and Habitat for Humanity provided,” Sotomayor said.

The Sotomayor home was acquired through the Albany County Land Bank and refurbished in partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

“The story of the Sotomayor family is one that we all celebrate as they are realizing their dream of homeownership,” said Assemblyman John McDonald, D-Cohoes.