ALBANY — The Oswego County Land Bank Corporation will receive a $1 million grant from office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
The grant, announced Friday, represents by far the largest investment since the land bank was officially incorporated in Jan. 2016 with a mission of improving Oswego County housing stock by returning vacant, abandoned or tax delinquent properties to productive use.
"We are excited about all of the positive initiatives on the table here in the county, and we're eager to make neighborhood revitalization a part of the efforts to make Oswego County a better place to live,” said Land Bank Board of Directors President Shane Broadwell.
Broadwell noted the $1 million grant would support “the acquisition and disposition of 40 or more properties throughout Oswego County.”
The last several weeks have seen a rapid escalation in activity for the land bank, including demolishing structures on three of its properties in Phoenix, Mexico and the city of Oswego and hiring a full-time executive director.
The land bank is currently in possession of seven properties spread throughout the county.
Monday’s City of Oswego Common Council meeting is expected to deed over an additional three properties in the city.
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said the funding gives the city confidence “in the longevity and stability of the land bank so we can begin to focus on a long-term, comprehensive plan to apply to Oswego.”
Barlow said the city could now expand and diversify its list of potential properties for demolition or rehabilitation submitted to the land bank, and work with the organization “to continue the good work we’ve started.”
Land Bank Treasurer Justin Rudgick noted Oswego city officials will continue working with the land bank to generate a larger inventory of “blighted, distressed and problematic properties that have deteriorated the quality of life in our city neighborhoods.”
Schneiderman’s office announced the availability of $20.9 million, the pool Oswego’s $1 million was drawn from, in November of last year and invited all 18 land banks currently chartered in New York to apply for the funding.
Settlements with banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are funding the grants, reached “over misconduct that contributed to the housing crisis,” according to Schneiderman’s office.
“Communities throughout New York are still suffering the fallout from the housing crisis, and my office will continue to support innovative efforts to help them recover,” Schneiderman said.
Schneiderman added the grants “build on the significant accomplishments already achieved over the past three years, helping put abandoned properties back into use, revitalizing towns and cities, and creating a safer, more stable, and more vibrant environment for New York’s families.”
Last July, the land bank was awarded $150,000 over two years through Schneiderman’s Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)
Since 2013, investments from Schneiderman’s office for New York land banks total approximately $57 million.
According to David Turner, a land bank board member, the application process was rigorous.
Applicants were required to submit a two-year detailed budget, outline expenses and property acquisition, among many other aspects of the land bank’s operation.
Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner, R-New Haven, said he appreciated the support of the Attorney General’s Office on the land bank, a “new and vital organization.”
"We are working hard to be proactive in our efforts to make Oswego County a better place to live, work and raise a family, and we welcome these new partnerships as we move forward,” said Gardner.