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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