Diplomas to Homeownership Bill Seeks to Rehab Neighborhoods

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
Student loan debt and the high cost of living can make it difficult for many to achieve the dream of owning a home.

To try to help, I have drafted and introduced legislation that would incentivize graduates of New York state colleges to purchase homes rehabilitated by local land banks.

This legislation, known as the NYS Diplomas to Homeownership Program, is modeled after programs that have worked in other states.

It is designed to help college graduates achieve the goal of buying a house and at the same time help strengthen and revitalize neighborhoods.

The legislation would incentivize college graduates to purchase a house rehabilitated by local land banks with a student loan repayment award equal to 10% of the purchase price of the qualified property up to $15,000.

In order to qualify, buyers need to be graduates of New York state colleges and would also be required to remain in the home for at least five years.

Land banks are relatively new to Upstate New York.

In 2011, New York state law authorized the creation of up to 25 land banks throughout the state.

They each share the common goal to acquire and repurpose vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties.

Their mission is to target the types of properties that will assist in rehabilitating neighborhoods.

Currently, there are 25 land banks in New York all aiming to eliminate blight, return abandoned properties to productive use and ultimately get them back on the tax rolls.

Locally, we have two land banks—one in Onondaga County and one in Oswego County.

Since its inception, the Greater Syracuse Land Bank has successfully transitioned 708 properties from tax delinquency to newly-owned properties.

Likewise, the Oswego County Land Bank has put nearly $1.4 million worth of property back on the tax rolls and completed more than 39 rehabilitation projects.

The earnings from the property sales are reinvested back into the program so more properties can be rehabilitated.

At last count, land banks across the state have sold more than 650 properties and as a result, have added almost $30 million in assessed value to the tax rolls.

In addition to assisting recent grads, the NYS Diplomas to Homeownership program would help land banks secure buyers for the rehabilitated properties and create a new demand for the housing.

This demand will reduce the amount of time the properties spend on the market and therefore will reduce costs land banks spend on marketing properties.

This will enable land banks to realize a faster return on their investments which will enable them to rehabilitate additional properties.

In addition, NYS Diplomas to Homeownership will maximize state investment by creating a link between young professionals who have invested in their education directly with local revitalization efforts.

This program will encourage talented, young people to be a part of Upstate revitalization and to stay in New York state.

To view the bill, visit https://bit.ly/2Ov6SVn.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.