A.G. Underwood Awards Nearly $26 Million to New York Land Banks

All Land Banks in New York State will Receive Funding; AG’s Office has Now Invested Over $82 Million in New York State Land Banks

Funding Secured through AG’s Martin Act Securities Fraud Settlements with the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS Over Misconduct that Contributed to Housing Crisis

New York – Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced $25.9 million in new funding for all New York State land banks that work to protect homeowners and neighborhoods by acquiring blighted homes and transforming them into community assets. This latest round of funding will be administered by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. (Enterprise). Since 2013, the Attorney General’s office has provided more than $82 million to land banks from funding it secured through settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis. This latest funding was secured through Martin Act securities fraud settlements announced earlier this year with the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS.

New York State Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood

“Land banks are a pivotal part of revitalizing and rebuilding neighborhoods across the state,” said Attorney General Underwood.“Thanks to funding secured by my office’s settlements with the big banks, we’ve been able to invest in cities and towns across New York still recovering from the foreclosure crisis.”

During the decade of the housing boom and bust from 2000 to 2010, the number of vacant properties in New York State increased by 27 percent. Following the collapse of the housing market, the New York State Legislature passed a law in 2011 establishing land banks — nonprofit organizations that can acquire vacant, abandoned, or foreclosed properties and rebuild, demolish, or redesign them. There are currently 25 New York land banks, all of which submitted responses to a Request for Applications issued by Enterprise; all will receive funding for 2019-2020 through this latest round.

According to the New York Land Bank Association’s 2017 New York State Land Bank Report, land banks in New York have:

  • Reclaimed 1,989 properties from abandonment and blight;
  • Sold 651 properties to individuals or nonprofit organizations;
  • Demolished 482 unstable structures.

Abandoned and vacant properties depress property values, discourage property ownership, and attract criminal activity. Land banks provide tools to quickly turn these properties back into assets that reinvest in the community’s long-term vision for its neighborhood. Land bank programs act as an economic and community development tool to revitalize distressed neighborhoods and business districts. Land banks can benefit urban schools, improve tax revenues, expand housing opportunities, remove public nuisances, assist in crime prevention, and promote economic development.

The New York land banks receiving funding for 2019-2010 include:

  • Albany County Land Bank Corporation
  • Allegany County Land Bank
  • Broome County Land Bank Corporation
  • Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation (BENLIC)
  • Capital Region Land Bank
  • Cattaraugus County Land Bank
  • Chautauqua County Land Bank Corporation
  • Chemung County Land Bank
  • Finger Lakes Regional Land Bank Corporation
  • Greater Mohawk Valley Land Bank
  • Greater Syracuse Land Bank
  • Livingston County Land Bank
  • Nassau County Land Bank
  • Newburgh Community Land Bank
  • Niagara-Orleans Regional Land Improvement Corporation (NORLIC)
  • Ogdensburg Land Bank Corporation
  • Oswego County Land Bank
  • Rochester Land Bank Corporation
  • Suffolk County Land Bank Corporation
  • Steuben County Land Bank
  • Sullivan County Land Bank
  • Troy Community Land Bank
  • Tioga County Land Bank
  • Wayne County Land Bank
  • Kingston City Land Bank

“Since 2013, the land bank has acquired nearly 1,600 properties and in that process, increased safety and reduced blight in our neighborhoods, generated more than one million dollars in property taxes, and made homeownership accessible to more people in our community,” said City of Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh. “We thank the Attorney General’s office for a renewal of funding toward the Greater Syracuse Land Bank.”

“A decade later, many neighborhoods throughout the United States are still reeling from the financial crisis,” said Adam Zaranko, President of the New York Land Bank Association and Executive Director of the Albany County Land Bank Corporation. “As many of our communities and local governments continue to grapple with large numbers of vacant properties and their harmful effects, land banks have emerged throughout New York as a local solution to a national crisis.  The significant support New York’s 25 land banks has received from the Attorney General’s Office will help relieve the burden these properties impose on New Yorkers across our state.”

“The Land Bank Community Revitalization Initiative is a critical tool for revitalizing distressed communities, and Enterprise is proud to partner with the Attorney General on this important program,” said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners. “Today’s announcement builds on several years of work to create and preserve quality affordable housing statewide, and we look forward to continuing to support this effort in the years to come.”