New funding available for busy Newburgh land bank

By Bill Heltzel

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Newburgh Community Land Bank has received $4.4 million in state funds over the past three years, according to a report from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and has fixed 36 dilapidated properties.

Now New York has secured another $20 million to support Newburgh and 17 other land banks across the state.

The new funding comes from legal settlements with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis.

The number of vacant properties in New York increased by 27 percent, from 2000 to 2010, Schneiderman said in a press release. The state Legislature established the land bank program, and in 2013 the attorney general funded the nonprofit organizations from settlements with financial institutions over claims stemming from the 2008 financial crisis.

The state has provided $33 million for buying blighted homes. The land banks have reclaimed 1,995 properties, of which 409 were demolished and 701 were put back on the market.

Demolishing or fixing blighted properties have saved an estimated $19 million in property value for surrounding homes, based on a Michigan State University study. For instance, houses within 150 feet of a vacant property can lose about $7,000 in value.

The report says that stabilizing blighted neighborhoods can cut government costs, reduce crime and fires, put properties to productive use and generate tax revenue.

In Newburgh, for example, the land bank’s preservation program focused on removing lead and asbestos and fixing structural problems in historic downtown buildings. One such building was then transferred to an architect who renovated and created affordable apartments for three families.

Most of the land banks are in rural towns in upstate and western New York. The Newburgh land bank is the only one in the Lower Hudson Valley.

The program started with 10 land banks and has since added eight.

They can get a share of the new funds through a formal competitive process.

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About the author

Bill Heltzel
Bill Heltzel has covered criminal justice, courts, government and sports – as a beat reporter and investigative reporter – for daily newspapers in Florida, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He worked for Bloomberg LP in training and sales. He joined The Business Journal in 2016.

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