Sch­nei­der­man an­nounces $20M for land banks to com­bat blight

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS -

AL­BANY >> Ef­forts to com­bat va­cant and blighted prop­er­ties around New York state are get­ting a $20 mil­lion boost, state At­tor­ney Gen­eral Eric Sch­nei­der­man an­nounced Wed­nes­day.

The money will be com­mit­ted to com­mu­nity land banks, which are used by cities and towns around the state to ac­quire and re­ha­bil­i­tate — or de­mol­ish — va­cant build­ings. Many com­mu­ni­ties around the state are deal­ing with a rash of such prop­er­ties, which can desta­bi­lize en­tire neigh­bor­hoods by fall­ing into dis­re­pair and driv­ing down prop­erty val­ues.

The $20 mil­lion comes from re­cent state le­gal set­tle­ments with Mor­gan Stan­ley and Gold­man Sachs over bank­ing prac­tices that con­trib­uted to the hous­ing and fore­clo­sure cri­sis.

“New York’s land banks have suc­cess­fully em­pow­ered com­mu­ni­ties across the state to re­build and re­vi­tal­ize neigh­bor­hoods hit hard by the fore­clo­sure cri­sis,” Sch­nei­der­man said in a state­ment an­nounc­ing the fund­ing.

Fol­low­ing the 2008 eco­nomic down­turn, many com­mu­ni­ties saw a sharp in­crease in the num­ber of aban­doned prop­er­ties as res­i­dents moved out of homes in fore­clo­sure.

Led by local res­i­dents and of­fi­cials, the land banks buy the prop­erty and ei­ther fix up the homes or de­mol­ish them. In many cases the prop­er­ties are put back on the mar­ket. Sch­nei­der­man’s of­fice has com­mit­ted $33 mil­lion to local land banks in the past three years.

The first 10 land banks have re­claimed nearly 2,000 prop­er­ties around the state since 2013, ac­cord­ing to Sch­nei­der­man’s of­fice. Of those, 701 were put on the mar­ket. An­other 409 were de­mol­ished.

FILE PHOTO BY TONY ADAMIS

A boarded-up house in Mid­town Kingston

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