Author(s): Center for Community Progress
In just ten years, New York has become a national leader in the land bank movement. This report, prepared for the New York Land Bank Association (NYLBA), documents and celebrates the remarkable rise and achievements of New York land banks.
As of December 2022, there are twenty-six land banks of incredible diversity serving more than 70% of the state’s population outside of New York City. New York’s successful land banking story is one of:
- Forward-thinking public officials and creative practitioners who acknowledged the traditional tax auction was no way to resolve vacant, abandoned, and dilapidated properties and that a bolder approach was possible.
- Shared learning and local experimentation that reimagined vacant properties not as a liability to cast off to some anonymous bidder, but as an asset that could be patiently and thoughtfully stewarded back to productive use in support of a community’s priorities, such as affordable and healthy rental housing, local homeownership and wealth-building, food security, climate resiliency, and more.
- Respectful collaboration and remarkable innovation that, in the last decade, has seen the evolution of New York land banks from transactional public entities at the fringe of community development to transformational hubs of excellence at the center of equitable, inclusive development.
Land banks in New York have proven to be one of the most effective tools to halt and reverse vacancy and disinvestment, stabilize and strengthen neighborhoods, advance local priorities, and support economic recovery. However, there are both persistent and emergent new threats to the health and safety of neighborhoods across the Empire State, primarily from the long-term destabilizing impacts of COVID-19 and our acute housing crisis.
In the face of these challenges, it is promising to know that land banks are well-positioned to play a key role in long-term recovery efforts—so long as state, county, local governments, and philanthropic partners continue to provide the resources needed to advance equitable development, inclusive neighborhoods, and resilient communities.