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Politics and Government

Syracuse Land Bank wants more renovations in city's most struggling neighborhoods

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Tom Magnarelli
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WRVO News File Photo
Katelyn Wright, the executive director of the Syracuse Land Bank.

Syracuse’s Land Bank is applying for a new round of funding from settlements the New York State Attorney General’s Office made with banks after the 2008 mortgage crisis. The land bank wants to use the new funding on renovations in areas of the city it has previously neglected.

Lank banks acquire tax-delinquent properties with the goal of getting them back on the tax rolls. The Syracuse Land Bank used $5 million from the state attorney general’s office on properties involved in the mortgage foreclosure crisis, which happened to be in more transitional neighborhoods. Now with a new round of funding, Syracuse Land Bank Executive Director Katelyn Wright said they want to renovate 10 houses in the city’s hardest hit neighborhoods.

“A bit of a different strategy than the transitional blocks we were focusing on before,” Wright said. “The AG is asking for that focus, but we also think it is a nice way to respond to some of the criticism we’ve received from Syracuse United Neighbors and others, that the previous two rounds of AG money didn’t do very many renovations in the most distressed parts of the city.”

The Syracuse Land Bank is proposing that $1.75 million would be spent on 70-80 demolitions and $750,000 would be for renovations. The land bank is also applying for rental funding through the state attorney general’s office. Properties would be renovated and sold to a local landlord.

“The objective is to take someone who is already an owner-occupant in that neighborhood and sell them at a very low cost, a subsidized fully renovated house that they would operate as a rental,” Wright said. "What it would do is use that money to fully renovate a house. It would provide high quality affordable rental units for the tenants. It should improve the surrounding property values, because of the quality of the project. And any income stream from those rentals would be going to a nearby owner-occupant and staying within the same neighborhood.

This program would require landlords to keep the rents affordable on those properties. The Syracuse Land Bank will be notified in December if it can participate in the rental program.