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Some Syracuse city employees can claim land bank homes -- for half the price

Ellen Abbott
WRVO file photo

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is encouraging certain city employees to buy tax delinquent homes that have been sold to the city.

Last year, police officers and fire fighters employed by the city, and teachers who worked for the city school district, were offered a 10 percent discount if they bought one of the land bank properties. Nobody did. So the land bank’s board has okayed raising that discount to 50 percent.

The Land Bank’s executive director Katelyn Wright says they’ll push the program more aggressively this year.

“Marketing will be a big part of it. We didn’t advertise it very widely last year. And we think to incentivize people, it needed to be higher that 10 percent,” Wright said. “We needed to do something more dramatic.”

Wright expects more properties to go on the market this spring, offering more options to these potential buyers.

“We’re hoping to attract teachers, firefighters and police officers employed by the city or the city school district to reside in the city of Syracuse," Wright said. "We think the can have a great stabilizing force on neighborhoods. And they’re already contributing so much to the community, we’d like them to be a part of it.”

Most of the properties are what would be called fixer-uppers. Since it was established in 2012, the land bank has taken title to more than 400 properties for back taxes, dozens of those homes have been rehabbed and returned to the tax rolls.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.