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Land Bank Plans Tax Foreclosure Auction

With no Chautauqua County Tax Foreclosure Auction the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, it appears county officials are moving forward with the possibility of hosting an auction this year.

Gina Paradis, Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. executive director, said she discussed the possibility of a tax foreclosure auction this year with the land bank board during its regular monthly meeting earlier this month.

“(The auction is) driven by the county Real Property Tax Department and the (Chautauqua County Legislature) Finance Committee and they are planning to move forward with an auction. They are tentatively looking at late July,” she said. “We are hoping we will be able to negotiate for a bulk of the properties in the auction to be transferred to us to put in our Rehabs 4 Sale program.”

The land bank’s Rehabs 4 Sale program is used to acquire abandoned, foreclosed houses that are structurally sound that are sold at below market value to community members and organizations who will commit to renovating the property.

Paradis said she expects there to be more properties available in the foreclosure auction for the land bank than in typical years.

“Certainly there is a snowballing effect not having the auction the last couple of years,” she said. “So you are going to have the average that you would have each year added up.”

Also with the state’s two-year moratorium on evictions during the pandemic, Paradis said there could be an increase in the number of foreclosures available for homeowners who didn’t keep up with their mortgage payments.

“I think the pandemic has made matters worse,” she said. “Those individuals who put off paying their mortgages are likely in a situation where they have so much money that they owe they can’t reconcile.”

Paradis said the state does offer an Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help those struggling to pay their mortgage.

“There is a hardship application people can apply for if they are getting a foreclosure notice,” she said.

Another new aspect to the auction for the land bank is whether to accept parcels that need to be demolished. In past years, the land bank would accept foreclosed properties that need to be demolished and pay for the demolition with the funding it received from the state via money from settlements with the nation’s largest banks over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis. However, the last funding the land bank received from the state was in 2020 and needs to be appropriated by the end of the first quarter of this year. Paradis said that funding has already been earmarked for ongoing demolitions.

“Generally we take parcels out of the auction that need to be demolished as well,” she said. “That is up in the air with no demolition funding going forward. It’s tenuous trying to figure out how to approach that whole situation.”

In other business, the board approved property dispositions, which included transferring 10-12 E. Second St., Jamestown, to the city of Jamestown. Paradis said, originally, the land bank had transferred the property to the Jamestown Urban Renewal Association, but city officials wanted that revised so the property would go to the city.

The property at 10-12 E. Second St. is where there was a partial roof collapse on Oct. 20 in October 2016, which was followed by an emergency demolition in November 2016.

The board also approved another revision for 1052.5-1054 N. Main St., Jamestown, to subdivide a parcel that had several lots. One of the lots will be given to a neighbor.

Another approved property disposition was for 67 Seymour in Fredonia. Paradis said, before the land bank sold the parcel, they subdivided it to straighten out the property line with a neighbor. She said parcels were traded to allow for the straighter property border.

In Brocton, the board approved a property disposition at 10 E. Main St. that will transfer the property to village officials following the demolition of a commercial building.

“We transferred the property so they can control the redevelopment,” she said.

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