Archive for March 1st, 2010

In the absence of a Community and Economic Development Department, the Property Disposition Committee has been discussing a strategy to deal with fifty or so City-owned properties, as well as the approximate 120 new properties that we have just taken in foreclosure. The following are notes from the meeting. The obstacles to the plan include proper staffing and the funding necessary to realize the goals of the plan. That said, though the challenge is daunting, our opportunities are realistic.

Property Disposition Meeting Notes: February 21, 2010
Strategy for City-owned properties

Short Term

Compile a complete list of properties:
– Create a history of each property (code violations, neighborhood pricing, sales data)
– Create searchable data base on server

Property assessment:
– Assess as vacant/occupied, open, condition, etc.
– post buildings as City-owned

Map locations for visual reference
– Color code lots, abandoned residential, and occupied properties
– Eventually GIS map/track this data

Develop Property Task Force:
Identify Partners – URA, AHA, Realtors, Banks, Chamber, Habitat for Humanity, County Planning

Develop customized strategies for neighborhoods/streets:
– Targeted code enforcement
– Develop marketing strategy working with public/private entities, realtors, chambers, etc.
– Promote remodeled block strategy as opposed to individual rehab
– Expand definition of “abandoned” to include rental units that have been functionally abandoned by owners
– Take blighted properties by eminent domain
– Continue demolition of properties that are too far gone

Identify resources/incentives for rehab/first time homeowners:
– HOME program (URA)
– CDBG: investigate Troy CDBG funded stabilization revolving fund
– Establish a revolving loan fund to secure/stabilize properties the City will sell
– Create Local Historic preservation incentives
– Utilize NYS Historic Homeownership Rehabilitation tax credit
– promote historically sensitive rehab of unique architecture (expand to commercials)
– Energy efficiency (NYSERDA grants)
– Rehab Loans: low interest/deferred financing
– Local legislation
– Provide owner education
– HUD housing counseling
– Ownership responsibilities
– Credit counseling
– Lease to purchase arrangements

Exterior paint program: low/modern income owner-occupants

Small grant rehab program to target:
– Exteriors
– Home code violation repairs

Moderate rehab grant:
– Repair replacement of major systems

Foreclosure strategies:
– Secure properties (close them up)
– Establish value of property
– Market selected clusters of properties
– Rentals: contract to property management group
– Create a lease that stipulates tenants responsible for simple maintenance
(shovel sidewalks, grass); owner – major repairs
– Bundle properties (2-6 unit buildings) for property management
– Renting is sometimes a bridge to ownership: provide quality rental housing that
is well-managed.
– Rents go into maintenance fund
– Contract with Property Management Corporation? (i.e., Rivercrest)

Ensure quality rehabs:
– Make code compliant for resale/occupation
– Major systems upgrades completed before sale
– Address safety hazards, sanitation
– Minimize physical deterioration
– Cosmetically pleasing to purchaser (paint and clean carpets)
– Emphasize green retrofits
– Durable construction
– Purchaser must add major rehab and amenities after sale

Post-demolition: neighborhood stabilization plan
– Input: residents
– Creative uses: vacant land
– Parking
– Gardening/recreation
– Green energy generation

Reinstitute Community Development Department:
– Oversight planning, properties oversight, grants, partnerships, etc.
– Encourage responsible investors
– Increase requirements/oversight of purchasers
– Reduce restrictions on federal NSP (neighborhood stabilization programs) grantees
– Support capacity building, shifting funding strategies

Long Term

Successful Programs/Possibilities:

Deconstruction: cull architecturally saleable elements from properties

Establish “clean-slate property services” for hard-to-employ individuals (i.e., Chicago)
– Clean up, secure, maintain vacant properties
– Banks help fund program
– Job skills training oversight – Rivercrest, Rich Boise, Rob Spagnola,
Workforce Solutions)

Establish Land Bank or Trust
(REO: Real Estate Owned corporation)

– Needs enacting NYS legislation for communities like ours
– Concept: trust buys land house sits on; homeowner buys house but leases land
– unit appreciation stays as subsidy for next owner
– Establishes perpetual affordability
– Shared Equity
– Coordination between stakeholders
– Lender commitment to long-term vision
– Standardize value calculation

or, another model other communities have used

MDB: Mission Driven Brokerage service (not-for-profit)

– Address needs of marginal buyers (low, middle-income) communities
with specific incentives
– Sustainable home ownership through co-partnering of the MDB and mortgage brokers
– Encourages a responsible match between buyer and seller
– Develop firewall between real estate counseling and brokerage agent
– Encourages owner-occupant sales rather than “investor” sales

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