Enterprise Community Partners has released additional funding for New York State land banks working to protect homeowners and neighborhoods by acquiring and transforming blighted homes into community assets. Since 2013, the Attorney General’s office has provided more than $82 million to land banks from funding secured through settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct contributing to the housing crisis.
The Newburgh Community Land Bank (NCLB), established in 2012, has leveraged these funds to restore more than 100 vacant properties in the City of Newburgh, providing quality affordable rental and homeownership opportunities for city residents and spur focused development in the North of Broadway neighborhood, which has the highest vacancy rate in the city.
Mayor Torrance Harvey was elated to hear the news of the increase in funding: “We are [the City is] very excited to continue our collaboration with the Land Bank on our very important mission of improving the housing conditions in our city, especially now more than ever due to the effects of our current healthcare crisis in America!”
Enterprise has approved the additional funding to bolster the programs NCLB is currently carrying out as part of the $2 million awarded in 2019-20. In 2019, NCLB completed full renovations of two formerly vacant two-family homes on Lander Street purchased, and in contract by local Newburghers who are required to live in one unit and rent out the other to an income-qualified tenant. NCLB will continue renovations for another 4 to 5 similar properties on Lander and Johnston Streets in the upcoming year. Funding also is allotted for stabilizing and removing lead paint and asbestos from properties in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh, which will complete renovations and transfer to low-income homeowners. In addition, NCLB’s work includes the abatement and stabilization of properties released as RFPs or sold to private owners to complete repairs. The additional funding from Enterprise will allow NCLB to increase the number of properties they can renovate and sell at an affordable rate to local residents through the House to Home program Through this program, owner-occupied buildings with an income producing rental unit must be purchased by individuals who have lived within 15 miles of the property for the last 5 years.
Another aspect to this funding increase is that it is meant to specifically address racial inequity and benefit demographic groups, such as African Americans and Latinos, who have historically experienced mortgage discrimination. Although Newburgh Community Land Bank’s work already prioritizes these communities, given that the neighborhoods they are working in are majority African American and Latino, this funding mandates for at least 20% of the projects funded to target those communities. To date, about 60% of all purchasers of NCLB projects have been African American or Latino.
Since 2012, the Newburgh Community Land Bank has:
• Acquired more than 100 properties from the City of Newburgh;
• Sold over 75 properties to individuals or nonprofit organizations;
• Created or restored 159 Total Housing units—
• 43 Very Low Income
• $7 million in assessed value has returned to the tax rolls of the City.
• Partnered with Habitat for Humanity to construct 13 Single Family Homes
• Aided the preservation of over 50 historic structures within the Historic District
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.
NCLB Executive Director Jennifer Welles is relieved to get this additional boost of funding at this time: “We are proud that Enterprise continues to recognize our hard work and the impact that it has on our community. As the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis ravages the city and the rest of the country, affordable housing is going to be a vital resource. This support will enable us to continue to restore vacant buildings, while providing the stabilizing force of homeownership and quality rental housing to the residents of Newburgh.