Land Bank helps first-time homebuyers rehab vacant properties

The Albany County Land Bank has launched a pilot program to create more opportunities for individuals and families to become homeowners.

The Equitable Ownership Pilot Program pairs qualified applicants with tax-foreclosed, vacant, or abandoned properties in need of rehabilitation with a variety of reduced costs and resources to help diminish or eliminate some traditional barriers to owning a home.

The majority of the Land Bank’s real estate acquisitions are in economically distressed neighborhoods where most residents are people of color. For decades, according to a release from the land bank, these neighborhoods have had disproportionately low levels of homeownership, created in large part by discriminatory housing practices dating back to the 1930s.

A recent analysis by the Urban Institute on the gap between white and black homeownership rates in the 100 American cities with the highest number of black households found that the city of Albany has the second widest gap of all cities included in the study.

The initial phase of EOPP consists of five single- or multi-family residential buildings located in the city of Albany. Buildings selected for EOPP are in economically distressed neighbors and require a low to moderate amount of rehabilitation relative to other properties in the land bank’s inventory.

Future phases of the program will be expanded to the cities of Cohoes and Watervliet, based upon property availability. Under the program, qualified applicants will receive a 15-percent discount off the listing price or a seller’s concession of equal value to support the rehabilitation of a participating property, along with reduced closing costs.

Buyers will be paired with a “Rehabilitation Mentor” who will assist with creating a redevelopment plan and provide support during the rehabilitation process — from kickoff to close out — which typically takes 12 months. Buyers must provide evidence of sufficient financial capacity to complete the rehabilitation project prior to purchasing a property and will be paired with available resources if applicable.

A qualified applicants must be a first-time homebuyer with a household income between 50 percent and 70 percent of the area median income for Albany County, depending on household size. To be eligible, applicants must either currently reside in or relocate to an EOPP neighborhood. All applicants will be required to complete homebuyer education courses as part of the program.

The land bank will host a series of open houses for participating properties as well as a community event at 333 Clinton Avenue on Friday, June 29, where residents can stop by to learn more about the program.

For a full list of participating properties and more information about the program, including eligibility requirements, resources, and how to apply, visit www.albanycountylandbank.org.