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Press Releases > Mayor Brown's Push for Legislation to Combat Blight Gets Governor Cuomo's S

Mayor Brown's Push for Legislation to Combat Blight Gets Governor Cuomo's Signature

MAYOR BROWN’S PUSH FOR LEGISLATION TO COMBAT BLIGHT GETS GOVERNOR CUOMO’S SIGNATURE

New legislation enables Buffalo to better deal with abandoned and foreclosed homes citywide


For years, Mayor Byron W. Brown has pushed for legislation aimed at making it easier for municipalities to acquire stressed and abandoned properties to further stabilize neighborhoods and encourage homeownership, and the bill signed last week by Governor Andrew Cuomo will do just that. The new bill authorizes Local Land Banks to assign all rights to real property purchased at public sale, due to foreclosure as a result of unpaid property taxes, to the foreclosing governmental unit. The Brown administration has pushed for this legislation over the past few years as part of its continued effort to further combat and remove blight in neighborhoods citywide while placing properties into the hands of responsible owners.

Mayor Brown stated, “This is great news. The new bill will be extremely helpful to Buffalo and continues my Administration’s effort to rid the City of vacant and abandoned property by putting properties in the hands of responsible home owners who will put properties to good use, further raising the tax value, increasing development opportunities and abolishing blight from depressed neighborhoods.”

This bill is important because it now allows the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corp. (BENLIC) to acquire hundreds of properties ahead of real estate speculators at the upcoming In Rem 50 Tax auction, scheduled for October 18, 2016, October 19, 2016 and October 20, 2016 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

BENLIC Executive Director Jocelyn Gordon stated, "BENLIC has been making a positive impact in Erie County's Towns and Villages since 2014. Now the time has come for the Land Bank to make that same positive impact in the City of Buffalo.”

The City of Buffalo forecloses on several thousand tax-delinquent properties each year through its In Rem Tax Foreclosure process. Unfortunately, some properties have been transferred from one negligent landlord to another because the City had no preferred bid status at its previous annual In Rem Foreclosure Auction. As a result of the City’s inability to step into a position in front of all other bidders to acquire problem properties at the auction, certain neglected properties continued to cycle through ownership by various unscrupulous landlords.


The legislation will give the City a unique opportunity to work with BENLIC to obtain title through the In Rem property tax foreclosure process of key designated properties, identified by the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and the Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency (BURA), as most likely to be acquired by speculators and absentee owners. The City can now better focus its efforts to stabilize neighborhoods by increasing homeownership opportunities. Once the city acquires a property, the City will then evaluate and market the properties, dramatically improving the City of Buffalo’s land use planning, management and development. Unlike with the current In Rem Foreclosure Auction, the City can better evaluate potential purchasers of properties to ensure responsible owners take title these properties. Preference will be given to city residents.
Senator Marc C. Panepinto of the 60th District said, “Since taking office, Mayor Brown has made the removal of blight in the City of Buffalo a top priority. As a co-sponsor of S.7171, I was proud to aid the mayor’s effort with a common sense bill providing additional means to further combat and remove blight from our neighborhoods. I applaud Mayor Brown and his administration’s vision to address stressed and abandoned properties, and would like to thank my colleagues in the WNY state delegation for their assistance in getting this important legislation signed into law.”

"Rather than allowing properties to fall into the hands of out-of-state landlords who care very little about our community, this law will allow the city of Buffalo to identify properties at auction and target them for revitalization, putting them into the hands of responsible homeowners," said Senator Tim Kennedy. "This legislation, which I was proud to cosponsor, coupled with the new property laws addressing zombie foreclosures, will make a serious dent in our fight against slumlords and neighborhood blight. I thank Mayor Byron Brown for his leadership on this issue and Governor Cuomo for recognizing the importance of this legislation in our community."

"This bill allows the City of Buffalo to implement a comprehensive strategic housing plan that will encourage responsible housing development,” said Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes. "The City of Buffalo forecloses on several thousand tax-delinquent properties each year through its In Rem Tax Foreclosure process. The In Rem tax auction has seen increased speculation over the last five years, with parcels going into the hands of irresponsible property owners, then into housing court. The City of Buffalo contains an estimated 20,000 vacant parcels and 5,000 vacant structures. This bill will allow the city to manage final outcomes at the upcoming In Rem tax auction. I applaud my colleagues in government for getting this bill passed, and thank Governor Cuomo in signing it into effect."