Syracuse Land Bank looks to city for funding help

“Syracuse Land Bank looks to city for funding help”

“In an annual report to Common Councilors, Wright pointed out how the agency over the last five years has not only cleared out blight in city neighborhoods, but has helped the city bottom line, bringing in millions in formerly uncollected taxes, as well as $19 million in private renovation investment of the 537 properties it sold.

Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said without some help, the organization that buys dilapidated tax delinquent city properties with the goal of selling or demolishing them, will be out of savings soon.

“If things keep going the way they’re going, we’ll deplete our fund balance by the first quarter of 2021,” said Wright.

So she’s hoping to get some help from the city and is asking Mayor Ben Walsh to include some funding for the Land Bank in his upcoming budget.

“If there was $500,000 for property maintenance, that would almost cover our operating deficit,” she said. “That would really help us avoid spending down our fund balance. And we’ve also asked for $500,000 for demolitions.”

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Land Bank delivers annual report to Common Council

“Land Bank delivers annual report to Common Council”

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank was established in 2012, acquiring its first properties in October 2013.  Its mission is to acquire, stabilize, and return vacant and abandoned properties to productive use.  Since then the Land Bank has:

  • Enabled the City of Syracuse to collect $10.6 million in previously uncollectable overdue taxes from property owners who are noticed and pay to avoid foreclosure.
  • Acquired 1,432 properties
  • Demolished 229 blighted properties
  • Sold 537 properties
    • Leveraging $19 million in private renovation investment
    • Returned to taxable status, these properties generate nearly $1 million in local property tax annually
    • 45% of all residential structures sold have become owner occupied.
    • 91% of all buyers reside within Onondaga County and 77% in the City of Syracuse.

Land Bank Board of Directors Chairman, Vito Sciscioli, and Executive Director, Katelyn Wright, will brief the Syracuse Common Council’s Neighborhood Preservation Committee Monday, March 26, at 2:00 PM in the Common Council Chambers.

“I’m pleased to share the Land Bank’s success with the Councilors and continue to discuss operational improvements,” Wright said, “The Land Bank is providing a valuable public service at a scale previously not attempted in Syracuse – maintaining abandoned properties more cost effectively than the City has been able to and returning them to productive use at a faster rate than was previously possible.  We should all be proud of the successes we have enjoyed to date.  Syracuse is doing more to proactively address abandoned properties than any other NY community with a land bank.”

“We’ve set up a business model where, as the default recipient of foreclosed properties, this service can be largely supported by the sale of foreclosed properties, but we are facing some challenges in the coming years for which we need the City’s support.  Firstly, the sale of properties does not bring in enough revenue to fully support the Land Bank’s operations.  Public financial support is needed annually to cover our structural operating deficit.  The City can afford to provide this financial support since they benefit financially from the Land Bank’s work in several ways: 1) Partnership with the Land Bank is enabling the City to collect previously uncollectable delinquent property taxes, 2) Previously tax-delinquent properties sold by the Land Bank and returned to the rolls are now paying taxes on-time, 3) prior to foreclosure it is the City’s responsibility to maintain abandoned properties (mowing lawns, boarding windows, etc.) and once they foreclose this burden is shifted to the Land Bank.  Secondly, we need the City’s support to address blight removal.  This expense is outside of our normal operating budget and the Land Bank currently owns 225 demolition candidates and dozens of other buildings that we can prevent from becoming demolition candidates by repairing or replacing roofs.  This work is an investment in stabilizing and growing property values and the local tax base and it will pay long term dividends for the City and the County.”

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A.G. Schneiderman Announces $500 Million Settlement With Royal Bank Of Scotland Over Misconduct Leading Up To Financial Crisis

“A.G. Schneiderman Announces $500 Million Settlement With Royal Bank Of Scotland Over Misconduct Leading Up To Financial Crisis”

“While the financial crisis may be behind us, New Yorkers are still feeling the effects of the housing crash,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Home values plummeted. Vacant homes consumed neighborhoods. And for many New Yorkers, affordable housing fell out of reach. Today’s settlement is another important step in our comprehensive effort to help New Yorkers rebuild their lives and communities. I am proud of the extraordinary housing programs these settlements have funded across New York, from Brookhaven to Buffalo – and today’s settlement will fund even more community revitalization initiatives for years to come.”

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NY’s land banks need long-term funding commitment from state

“NY’s land banks need long-term funding commitment from state”

Editorial from Greater Syracuse Land Bank Executive Director, Katelyn Wright, outlines challenges faced by land banks across NY and points to Ohio as a model to follow in providing structural support for fighting blight.

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Greater Syracuse Land Bank Completes 500th Sale, Briefs Common Council on Progress to Date and Challenges Ahead

“Greater Syracuse Land Bank Completes 500th Sale, Briefs Common Council on Progress to Date and Challenges Ahead”

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank expects to complete its 500th sale this Thursday!

 

Today the Greater Syracuse Land Bank plans to complete its 500th sale of formerly tax delinquent property. This is a significant milestone in the 5 years of the Land Bank’s operations, over a third of its properties have been returned to the tax rolls. The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is the largest organization of its kind in NY State and has been held up as a national model for other communities to emulate.

 

500 sales by the numbers:

  • 45% of all residential structures sold have become owner occupied.
  • 91% of all buyers reside within Onondaga County and 77% in the City of Syracuse.
  • Of the 1,425 properties acquired to date, the Land Bank has returned over 1/3 to private owners and productive use.
  • 500 Properties Sold
    • Leverage over $17.6 million in private renovation investment
    • Returned to the tax rolls, these properties generate over $880,000 in local property taxes annually

Executive Director Katelyn Wright will brief the Syracuse Common Council’s Neighborhood Preservation Committee on Thursday, November 2nd at 11:00 AM in the Common Council Chambers.  “I’m pleased to share the Land Bank’s success with the Councilors and continue to discuss operational improvements,” Wright said, “We are proud of the work the Land Bank has done to date, and strive to provide better service, communication, and strategic planning to the residents of Syracuse and Onondaga County.”  The attached “Progress Report” highlights successes to date and challenges that lie ahead for the Land Bank. Read the full report.

 

Incorporated in 2012, the Greater Syracuse Land Bank is a not-for-profit corporation jointly founded by the City of Syracuse and Onondaga County. The Land Bank’s primary purpose is to return vacant, abandoned, underutilized, and tax-delinquent properties to productive use in ways that support the community’s long-range vision for its future.

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One last chance to paint for the Vacant Mural project in Syracuse

“One last chance to paint for the Vacant Mural project in Syracuse”

The mural project has resulted in vacant, deteriorating homes becoming works of art around the city, often with the help of people who live in the same neighborhoods.

The project was the brainchild of Logan Reidsma and Liam Kirst, who were working for the Greater Syracuse Land Bank through AmeriCorps.

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Creating Murals to Brighten Vacant, Blighted Properties in Syracuse Neighborhoods

“Creating Murals to Brighten Vacant, Blighted Properties in Syracuse Neighborhoods”

WAER covered the impact Liam Kirst and Logan Reidsma had as AmeriCorps members working with the Greater Syracuse Land Bank for 10 months. During their terms of service Liam and Logan organized a series of opportunities for volunteers to paint the boards that we use to secure vacant homes.  Decorated boards have gone up all over the City of Syracuse since this project started.  Click the link below to listen to the full article.

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See zombie Syracuse homes to be replaced by affordable apartments

“See zombie Syracuse homes to be replaced by affordable apartments”

Construction of 53 apartments on Butternut and Townsend Streets moving forward! The Land Bank has been working with Housing Visions since 2014 on plans to revitalize the Butternut Street corridor. This $16 million project will provide much needed funding for the demolition of 11 blighted structures and new construction to replace them. Thank you to William Magnarelli for supporting this project.

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City stuck maintaining vacant houses as Land Bank tightens its belt

“City stuck maintaining vacant houses as Land Bank tightens its belt”

“The Land Bank takes tax-delinquent homes seized by the city and either returns them to taxable use or demolishes them. It is the city’s main way of dealing with its 1,800 vacant properties.

But since the city council cut $1.5 million from the Land Bank’s budget, the agency has begun refusing to accept properties in need of demolition. If the Land Bank can’t afford to demolish the property, leaders don’t want to be saddled with the costs of insuring and maintaining a decrepit building.

That cost will now fall to the city in most cases.

“With losing $1.5 million in demolition funding, we’ve had to take a look at whether we can afford to take more into our inventory,” said Katelyn Wright, executive director of the Land Bank. “If it’s a demo candidate, we’ve decided we can’t take any more.”

The Land Bank currently has $4 million in its reserve funds — money Common Councilors have said it could use to plug the hole left by the lack of city funds.

Wright, however, said she is budgeting for a loss of about $3.6 million over the next three fiscal years as the Land Bank more aggressively targets houses for renovation or demolition and begins to unload the thousand properties it currently owns.”

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