NEWBURGH –The Newburgh Community Land Bank (NCLB) announced the recent award by the Housing Trust Fund Corporation (HTFC) and NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) of $1.8 Million. The funding was granted after a competitive application process open to all New York State Land Banks as part of the Land Bank Initiative Phase II.
According to HCR’s website, “New York’s first land banks were established after passage of the New York Land Bank Act in 2011. These nonprofit organizations partner with government entities to strengthen communities by acquiring, stabilizing, and facilitating the redevelopment of blighted and abandoned properties, returning them to productive use, and growing local property tax bases. The 2022-23 NYS Budget included $50 million to support services and expenses of Land Banks and HCR will allocate resources in two phases.”
The Land Bank Initiative is a new funding program set up to address vacant abandoned and distressed properties across the state. NCLB will be investing the monies in several projects in its North of Broadway target neighborhood, particularly on Lander Street, S. Miller and surrounding streets, where the land bank has already reactivated over 100 buildings and vacant lots.
Lisa Daily, Chair of the Newburgh Community Land Bank spoke enthusiastically about the recent award: “We at the Land Bank are excited to have been awarded this grant from the HTFC and the HCR. We have worked hard for the past ten years to stabilize and generate housing in the “NOBRO” area. This funding will afford us the opportunity to recharge our efforts to revitalize the City’s vulnerable housing stock, while adding new housing to long-dormant lots. I for one can’t wait to get started.”
As one of the first 5 land banks to form in the state in 2012, at a time when the City of Newburgh had over 700 vacant and distressed properties, NCLB celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. They were set up by the City of Newburgh and acquire most of their properties through direct sale from the City of Newburgh in bulk acquisitions once or twice a year. Their success is attributable to a multi-prong approach to address vacancy and severely deteriorated property through collaborations with individuals, private investors, and nonprofits. Jennifer Welles, Executive Director of the land bank, explained that a lot of what land banks do is just remove some of the major barriers to redevelopment, such as taking care of the costly remediation and stabilization work required in the long vacant properties. This is even more critical to meet their mission of creating more affordable housing units. More than half of the repurposed properties in NCLB’s inventory were stabilized and remediated and then sold to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Newburgh and RUPCO, a Kingston based nonprofit affordable housing organization (130 units of housing between both organizations). Reducing the number of vacant properties in the North of Broadway neighborhood by at least a third, NCLB has created over 40 new homeowners, mostly through their partnership with Habitat and their own House to Home program. They have also worked with small private developers, such as Liberty Street Partners, which renovated 96 Broadway that includes affordable rental apartments and the popular and attractive eatery Mama Roux.
Welles expressed relief that “after a very uncertain time the last couple of years due to the global pandemic and the exhaustion of the initial source of land bank funding through the NYS Office of the Attorney General, we will be able to continue our work and complete all the projects in our pipeline over the next 18 months.” These include some of the following ambitious goals.