In 2015, LISC was tapped to distribute over $75 million in grant funds, donated by financial institutions, to mitigate the devastating aftermath of the housing collapse and economic downturn—and help prevent future foreclosures—in New York State. The grants are part of a series of settlements between the New York State Attorney General’s office and banks in the wake of the mortgage foreclosure crisis.
By 2016, the LISC New York State Housing Stabilization Fund was fully engaged with dozens of recipient municipalities and land banks, making and stewarding grants from the funding pool for efforts ranging from vacant property remediation to creating and preserving affordable housing across the state.
The grants are being used for work in five key areas:
Zombie and Vacant Properties Grant Program
These flexible grants, totaling $12.6 million, are earmarked for code enforcement and housing quality improvement in New York State municipalities. They are designed to fund local enforcement of the New York State Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act of 2016 (aka the "Zombie Law") and other vacant property initiatives. LISC is working with 76 cities, towns and villages, enabling them to deploy the funds for everything from foreclosure prevention to technical support for code enforcement. Learn more.
Land Bank Capitalization Program
These grants, totaling $12.8 million, are providing resources to thirteen land banks to acquire, rehabilitate or demolish deteriorated, vacant homes and to construct new homes on vacant land. The crucial work of the land banks provides affordable homeownership and rental opportunities and removes deteriorated, abandoned structures to enable the land to be repurposed – all with the goal of revitalizing neighborhoods and supporting them to be vibrant places to live. Learn more.
AmeriCorps Members for Land Banks
In partnership with LISC’s National AmeriCorps Program, we provide AmeriCorps members to serve at land banks throughout New York State. Their service enables land banks to inventory and evaluate properties for potential acquisition and to engage their communities in this work. To date, 21 LISC AmeriCorps members have participated.
Subsidies for Affordable Multifamily Rental Housing and Services and Programs
These housing grants, totaling over $44 million, have been committed to twenty affordable housing developments throughout New York State, to fund projects ranging from senior housing to new affordable apartments for domestic violence survivors. Learn more.
“BuildingBlocks” Tech Platform
LISC has also used grant proceeds to purchase two-year licenses, for 15 cities and towns, to BuildingBlocks, a cloud-based application designed to coordinate housing and asset management data for local governments. Learn more.
On October 23-24, 2019, LISC, Cornell University’s Community and Regional Development Institute, and Cornell’s Rust2Green and Engaged Cornell programs will host a gathering to discuss remediating, repurposing and preventing vacant housing.
This paper, by LISC's director of the NY State Housing Stabilization Fund, Helene Caloir, provides suggested next steps in the continued effort to address zombie and empty residential properties in New York State.
An article in Shelterforce explains how LISC’s expertise is helping bring zombie homes back to the land of the living.
LISC has been selected to develop and administer the second phase of a substantial grant initiative that turns "zombie" and vacant properties across New York State.