I would like to direct everyone’s attention to a campaign to create a land bank for Albany County.
“A land bank is a public entity whose purpose is to allow a community to make intentional decisions about the use of its land—from side lot sales to neighbors to rehabbed homes to urban agriculture to assembling property for economic development. It diverts tax foreclosed properties from the auction block to a more strategic disposition process, employing powers to clear title and back taxes to help make properties viable again.”
A land bank will give our area the ability to fix the current auction process for vacant properties, which for those unfamiliar with the issue, sells to the highest bidder without regard for the communities these properties exist in. This allows for endless speculation and results in many of these properties deteriorating beyond repair.
There have been many studies done on the effect of vacant properties on their surrounding neighborhood and the people who reside in them. Whether in a poor or wealthy community, none of the effects are good.
A land bank has the power to acquire properties through foreclosure or purchase, prepare them for resale to industry or non-profits or neighborhood residents and get them back in use and on the tax rolls. This has the potential to revitalize neighborhoods as well as creating and providing jobs, job training and affordable housing. There are also myriad possibilities for greening and food production on vacant land.
I believe that a land bank is a significant opportunity both to correct the unjust and poor economic and social design of our current system.
For more information and to get involved, please visit albanylandbank.com and contact your county legislator to advocate for the creation of a land bank in our county. Sample letters and legislator contact info is on the site.
Published in October/November, 2012 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter