A Cure for the Plight of Blight – The Land Banks Community Revitalization Initiative

Land Use

The New York State Attorney General’s office is now accepting applications for $20 million in grants which will be made available to carry out a range of vital community development projects including the demolition of blighted, vacant, and abandoned properties statewide.  Funds are only available to legally designated Land Banks, formed under the New York State Land Banks Act of 2011 (the “Act”)

The Act was promulgated under a new article 16 to the not for profit corporation law and it allows municipalities to establish land banks for the purpose of acquiring real property that is tax delinquent, foreclosed, vacant, or abandoned.  Once a municipality has established a land bank, they can design, develop, construct, demolish, reconstruct, rehabilitate and otherwise improve upon banked real property.

As stated in the Act, “there is an overriding public need to confront the problems caused by vacant, abandoned and tax-delinquent properties,” that resulted in large measure from the mortgage foreclosure crisis.  Through the grants available from the Attorney General’s office, communities can use land banks as a tool to facilitate the return of vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use, which benefits the public and the State as a whole.

The massive spike in foreclosure filings in the wake of the mortgage crisis has left local municipalities footing the bill for maintaining deteriorating properties. When condemned buildings become so dilapidated that they endanger public safety, local Towns and Villages often bear substantial legal fees and demolition costs to raze them.  Municipalities dealing with these ballooning line items in their budgets should strongly consider applying to secure funds they can use to acquire abandoned, vacant and/or blighted properties and redevelop them in ways that benefit the surrounding community.

In total, the Community Revitalization Initiative will provide Land Banks in New York State with $33 million in grants to promote these community revitalization efforts.  Applications are now being accepted for the second round of funding, and must be submitted electronically to the Attorney General’s Office by 4 p.m. on September 19, 2014.

A mandatory conference call hosted by the Attorney General will be held for all applicants on August 20, 2014.  For more information on the application process click here.

For more information on the New York Land Bank’s Act click here.

 

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