New York Governor Announces Effort to Eliminate Blight

Governor Hochul Announces Expanded Effort to Eliminate Neighborhood Blight, Increase Homeownership Across New York

New York (STL.News) Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the expansion of the state’s Legacy Cities initiative, a targeted strategy to assist local community revitalization efforts and increase homeownership opportunities in concentrated neighborhoods across New York.  Launched earlier this year, the program will increase eligibility to now include all municipalities that meet specific criteria regarding locally-coordinated investment efforts in well-defined neighborhoods or areas within the community.  Additionally, the Governor revealed that $4.8 million in funding has been awarded through the program to projects in Albany, Newburgh, and Syracuse.

“By expanding the Legacy Cities program, we are strengthening New York’s commitment to revitalizing blighted areas and bringing new opportunities for home ownership equity to urban neighborhoods throughout the state,” Governor Hochul said.  “Families need safe, secure, and affordable places to live, and I will continue to put the power of my administration behind programs that make that a reality while also improving the quality of life in underserved neighborhoods across the state.”

Legacy Cities is a partnership between New York State Homes and Community Renewal and The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a not-for-profit community development financial institution that focuses on the preservation and creation of affordable and workforce housing across New York.

The program, initially open to only those upstate communities served by a New York State Land Bank, will now begin accepting applications from any municipality in the state seeking funding for revitalization efforts targeting specific neighborhoods in the community.  The goal is to help transform blighted and vacant structures into newly renovated, move-in ready homes that will help expand affordable homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, specifically first-time buyers and households of color.

CPC is providing construction financing and technical assistance to the developers for all the Legacy City projects through its ACCESS program, an initiative that provides financial resources and capacity-building support to real estate entrepreneurs of color who have historically faced barriers to entry in the development industry.

During the first round of the program, three projects were awarded a total HCR subsidy of just under $4.8 million, and another $2.8 million in construction financing from CPC.

In Albany, the state awarded $1.9 million for a project in the city’s West Hill neighborhood that will renovate nine existing buildings consisting of 20 units.
In Newburgh, the state will provide $2.1 million towards the renovation of six buildings totaling 16 units in the city’s Lander Street neighborhood.
In Syracuse, $717,000 will go to the renovation five buildings that house a total of seven units on the city’s Southside.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “The Legacy Cities initiative is a strategic investment in community wealth building in our upstate neighborhoods.  The three awards for Syracuse, Newburgh and Albany will breathe new life into these downtowns, improve safety and expand access to affordable homeownership, especially for buyers of color who have traditionally been underrepresented in the housing market.  We look forward to replicating this funding model in more communities across the state to build a stronger and more equitable New York.”

CPC President and CEO Rafael E. Cestero said, “CPC is focused on investing in programs that close the racial wealth gap and increase equity and diversity within the development industry. Legacy Cities helps level the playing field by prioritizing affordable ownership opportunities to first-time buyers of color and gives M/WBE developers the ability to grow their businesses while revitalizing the communities in which they live and work.  My thanks to Governor Hochul, HCR Commissioner Visnauskas, and our Land Bank partners for their commitment to creating diverse and vibrant communities.”

Under the terms of the program, selected municipalities and Land Banks will transfer assemblages of up to 10 one- to three-family homes to local developers, with preference going to developers that are minority- and women-owned businesses.  CPC will provide construction financing and each project will be eligible to receive up to $75,000 per unit in HCR subsidy, with the potential for $95,000 per unit if specific energy efficiency improvements are included in the project scope.  Once completed, each property will be resold to first-time homebuyers, with priority given to households of color and to families who earn less than 80% of area median income.

Applicants will be required to coordinate with community-based housing counseling agencies to assist in the home buying process for each property, and provide homeownership education and training.  HCR, through the State of New York Mortgage Agency (SONYMA), will also provide access to the “Give Us Credit” program – a statewide initiative that uses alternative credit analysis to increase homeownership for applicants who have been underserved in the homeownership market, particularly applicants of color.  HCR will offer potential homebuyers down payment assistance to cover acquisition and closing costs.