In 2018, more than two dozen houses were both demolished and saved throughout the county because of the work done by the Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp.
Gina Paradis, county Land Bank Corp. executive director, told The Post-Journal the organization that was designated as one of the first five land banks in the state that 27 houses in the county were demolished with funding provided by the county Land Bank Corp. She said 13 demolitions were completed in Jamestown, with two more in the process.
“(The Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency) matched our investment with 15 demos completed or in the process using Community Development Block Grant funds,” Paradis said.
Paradis said one demolition was completed in Dunkirk, with city officials also completing additional demolitions with the use of Community Development Block Grant funding as well. In the rest of the county, Paradis said there were nine residential and two mixed-use demolitions completed last year.
As for next year, Paradis said about another two dozen houses will be demolished.
“We try to complete at least 20-25 per year,” she said. “At least 10 in Jamestown and six in Dunkirk and the balance around the county.”
In 2018, 24 houses were saved and sold as part of the county Land Bank Corp.’s Rehab 4 Sales program, Paradis said. The Rehabs 4 Sale program is used to acquire abandoned 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 15 rehabs were sold in Jamestown, 10 were purchased to be renovated in Dunkirk and five other abandoned houses were bought to be restored last year.
In November, it was announced the county Land Bank Corp. would be receiving $2 million from the state to continue its programs in 2019 and 2020. This was the fourth award from the state Attorney General’s Office in the last five years. 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. During the third round of funding, the county Land Bank Corp. 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. In November, 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.
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.