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Land Bank Receives More Funding Than Requested

The Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. was one of the community partners who collaborated to clean up the Main Street property in Falconer that was destroyed by fire in 2017. The county land bank received $2 million from the state to continue its programs like cleaning up demolished property sites. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

The Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. will be receiving almost double the amount of funding it received last year from the state Attorney General’s Office.

On Monday, Gina Paradis, county land bank executive director, told The Post-Journal the land bank will be receiving $2 million in funding from the state. The amount is more than county land bank officials requested, which was $1.9 million.

“We are extremely pleased,” Paradis said. “It obviously shows (state officials) appreciate the job we are doing and acknowledge our efforts.”

Despite the increase in competition with more land banks being created throughout the state, the county land bank was able to secure $900,000 more in funding during the fourth round of awards than during the third round when it received $1.1 million.

The competition for the funding from the Attorney General’s Office has increased since the first award was received by the county land bank in 2013. Earlier this month, Paradis said 25 state land banks applied for funding in round four. She said less than 10 state land banks applied for funding in 2013. She said during round three, about 18 state land banks applied for funding.

During the first round of funding in 2013, the county received $1.5 million. During the second round of funding in 2014, the county received $1.3 million.

Paradis said the funding from the fourth round will be for 2019 and 2020. She said the awarding of the fourth round is coming at an appropriate time for the county land bank. She added that the county land bank will have spent all of its third round funding by the end of this year. She added fourth round funding will continue to be used toward demolitions throughout the county; acquiring foreclosed houses that will be rehabilitated into quality, affordable housing for low-to-moderate income homeowners; side lots program to sell empty land following a demolition to neighboring property owners to have the property go back on the tax rolls; and a special project with nonprofit entities.

On Friday, state Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood announced $25.9 million in new funding for all New York land banks that work to protect homeowners and neighborhoods by acquiring blighted homes and transforming them into community assets. The latest round of funding will be administered by Enterprise Community Partners Inc.

Since 2013, the Attorney General’s office has provided more than $82 million to land banks from funding it secured through settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis. This latest funding was secured through Martin Act securities fraud settlements announced earlier this year with the Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS.

During the decade of the housing boom and bust from 2000 to 2010, the number of vacant properties in New York increased by 27 percent. Following the collapse of the housing market, the state Legislature passed a law in 2011 establishing land banks — nonprofit organizations that can acquire vacant, abandoned or foreclosed properties and rebuild, demolish or redesign them. There are currently 25 New York land banks, all of which submitted funding request and all will receive funds for 2019-2020.

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