Politics · May 27, 2021

New York Governor: $25 Million Legacy Cities Initiative

New York (STL.News) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the new $25 million Legacy Cities initiative, a targeted effort to eradicate vacant properties in concentrated neighborhoods across Upstate New York and transform blighted structures into newly renovated, move-in ready homes.  The renovated homes will help expand affordable homeownership opportunities for low- and moderate-income residents, specifically first-time buyers and households of color.

“By working to eliminate vacant properties in cities throughout the State, we can facilitate and expand the revitalization efforts currently underway in many underserved neighborhoods, especially those previously impacted by the foreclosure crisis,” Governor Cuomo said.  “This new program will help increase property values for current homeowners, improve the quality of life in neighborhoods, and reduce the strain on municipal resources, including fire and police, by decreasing the health and safety risks associated with blighted buildings.  As we emerge from the pandemic, it is critical that we continue to make targeted investments like these in order to stabilize our communities and increase affordable housing for New Yorkers.”

Under the new initiative, New York State Homes and Community Renewal will allocate up to $25 million in state subsidies through an application process open to land banks that are active in upstate cities and are working in partnership with small, local developers.  The program will also leverage millions of dollars in private construction financing.  Initially, the program will target projects that are located in an upstate community served by a New York State Land Bank in several regions, including the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier, and Western New York.

The program is a partnership between HCR and the Community Preservation Corporation, a non-for-profit community development financial institution that focuses on the preservation and creation of affordable and multifamily workforce housing across New York.  CPC will provide funding for the program through its ACCESS initiative which was launched in 2020 to provide capital and pre-development support to developers and real estate entrepreneurs of color, and which targets high-quality housing projects in underserved communities.

Selected land banks will transfer assemblages of up to 10 single-family properties 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 percent of area median income.

Applicants will also be required to work with community-based housing counseling agencies to connect residents to HCR’s “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 these potential homebuyers down payment assistance to cover acquisition and closing costs.

Program applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and the application window will remain open until the program funds have been committed.  For more information about the Legacy Cities initiative, including applications and term sheets, visit the HCR website: https://hcr.ny.gov/legacy-city-access-program.