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New York, Missouri Municipalities Gain New Tools to Combat Blight and Rebuild Neighborhoods


With the help of the Community Progress team, five New York municipalities are newly empowered to transform urban blight into engines of economic development. The applications of five cities and counties seeking to create land banks were approved yesterday by Governor Andrew Cuomo. This crucial step towards development will allow governments to create land banks that will help facilitate reuse of vacant or abandoned properties to better serve the public interest in their communities. The approval comes less than a year after the governor signed New York State's Land Bank Act into law in July 2011.

The five governments were selected by Empire State Development (ESD) as the first applicants in New York State to establish land bank programs— a high legislative priority for communities, the governor and the state legislature. The approved municipalities are: cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna, Tonawanda and Erie County; City of Syracuse and Onondaga County; City of Schenectady, County of Schenectady and City of Amsterdam; Chautauqua County; and City of Newburgh.

Land banks are an integral part of the transformation of struggling urban communities. With guidance from the experts at Community Progress, the New York municipalities will design the land bank programs as self-supporting ventures that will identify and manage foreclosed and tax delinquent residential and commercial properties in their communities. Once within the land bank, many properties will be improved and placed back on the tax roll.

New York is not the only state to see success this week in land bank legislation. At the request of various leaders and stakeholders — such as the governments of Kansas City, Missouri and Jackson County, as well as Kansas City Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)—Community Progress’ Frank Alexander and Sara Toering provided an analysis of preliminary draft for Kansas City Land Bank legislation and of existing state statutes related to the Jackson County Land Trust and the tax foreclosure system.  At the request of this same group, Community Progress drafted land bank legislation for Kansas City and Jackson County. A visit to Kansas City in late 2011 allowed Community Progress to convene stakeholders and walk them through the draft legislation. That legislation— drafted by Community Progress— became the basis for HB 1659 in the Missouri legislature. In a late night session this week, legislators successfully passed an amended version of the bill.

Read the Buffalo News article here.