As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, land banks have tremendous potential as a revitalizing force in many communities.
We say “potential”, because—in far too many cases—they have devolved into a purely transactional entity, taking over abandoned or tax-defaulted properties and selling them to the highest bidder. Few land banks have any kind of strategy to help ensure that these transactions actually advance neighborhood revitalization.
Another problem most of them have is that they are underfunded, so it was good news when the State of New York recently awarded the Albany County Land Bank a $1.8 million grant, specifically to revitalize communities in Albany County.
RECONOMICS also documented the revitalizing power of transforming vacant properties into affordable housing, so this new funding was even better news because it focuses on exactly that.
“This grant is wonderful news as the Albany County Land Bank continues to play a critical role in creating affordable homes, addressing blight, raising property values and rebuilding our communities,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy.
“Albany County is proud to have already invested nearly $4 million in our land bank since it was created in 2014. During these nine years, the Albany County Land Bank has helped us to revitalize entire neighborhoods. Thank you, Governor Hochul, for realizing how important the mission of our land bank is and making an investment for its continued success,” he added.
The funding is provided through the State’s Land Bank Initiative and will support the Land Bank’s efforts to transform vacant properties into affordable housing and eliminate blighted structures to improve the quality of life in communities that have experienced disinvestment.
“This award will enable us to address some of the most challenging vacant and abandoned properties in our communities and transform them into new opportunities for affordable housing,” said Adam Zaranko, Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank Corporation.
“We thank Governor Hochul, the State Legislature, New York State Homes and Community Renewal, our colleagues at the New York Land Bank Association, Albany County, and all of our partners for working to secure state funding for land banks so we can continue to revitalize our communities,” he added.
The grants were awarded on a competitive basis through a Request for Applications issued by New York State Homes and Community Renewal under New York’s Land Bank Initiative.
The award provides capital funding for building stabilization, demolition, and pre-development expenses.
“New York’s Land Bank Initiative has already allowed us to preserve, restore, and revitalize rundown properties across the state, and we are excited to be extending the opportunity this year,” Governor Kathy Hochul said.
“This program will empower local nonprofits – the people that know their communities best – to help increase homeownership while repairing the fabric of their neighborhoods,” she continued.
New York’s land banks were established in 2012 with passage of the New York State Land Bank Act. Land banks are local public authorities designed to acquire, stabilize, assemble, and facilitate the redevelopment of vacant and abandoned properties to return them back to productive use.
The Albany County Land Bank was established in 2014 by Albany County to facilitate the process of acquiring, improving, and redistributing tax-foreclosed, vacant, or abandoned properties.
“As a former Mayor, I understand the challenges that localities face when working to address blighted properties,” said Assemblymember John T. McDonald III, RPh.
“That is why as an Assemblymember I lead the effort each year to include Land Bank funding in the NYS Budget. Thank you to our legislative leaders, my colleagues, and the Governor for continuing to support our land banks and for understanding that they are integral to revitalizing our neighborhoods and increasing home ownership opportunities. In addition, thank you to the Albany County Land Bank and the other land banks around the state who work day to day to transform our communities,” he explained.
The Land Bank is a nonprofit organization committed to revitalizing neighborhoods and strengthening communities throughout Albany County. The Land Bank uses funding from the Office of the New York State Attorney General, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc., and Albany County to support property demolitions, acquisitions, stabilizations, lot improvements, and rehabilitation projects.
The Albany County Land Bank works in partnership with state and local government, non-profits, residents, community groups, and responsible developers and investors to return properties to productive use and support community development.
Photo of rehabilitated house courtesy of Albany County Land Bank.