More than a year ago, state attorneys general from across the country signed on to a $25 billion settlement with mortgage lenders
who they were suing over illegal practices.
The whole point of the settlement is to aid people and communities hit hard by the foreclosure crisis. And here's how New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman plans to do that: he's taking a $20 million chunk of the state's share of the settlement and making it available to the eight land banks in the state. (The City of Rochester's land bank was approved by the state earlier this year.)
Land banks are a relatively new concept to New York. Any municipality with the legal authority to foreclose on properties -- typically counties and cities -- are eligible to form one. The land banks are essentially nonprofits with their own boards that have more flexibility than governments to address tax delinquent, abandoned, and foreclosed properties.
Officials intend for the Rochester land bank to acquire vacant, abandoned, and tax-delinquent properties in the city and turn them over to the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership's HOME Rochester Program. The partnership will rehab the houses and sell them to first-time homebuyers.
Last week, the state Attorney General's Office issued a Request for Applications
for the funding, which will be awarded on a competitive basis. Property acquisition, rehabilitation, or demolition are among the projects for which the land banks can seek funding.