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Press Release

June 7, 2016

Contact: Richard Loconte, 212-709-1691

GOVERNOR CUOMO ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION AVAILABLE TO COMBAT "ZOMBIE PROPERTIES," EXPAND HOMEOWNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES AND RENOVATE HOMES

$22 Million for the New Neighborhood Revitalization Program to Help Low- and Middle-Income New Yorkers Buy and Renovate Vacant, Distressed Properties

$27 Million in Grants to Assist Existing Eligible Homeowners with Renovations

NRP Launches During National Homeownership Month to Help Communities in the Capital Region, Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $100 million in available funds to help new homebuyers purchase and renovate “Zombie” properties and assist existing low- and middle-income homeowners with major repairs and renovations. Funding is available through the New York State Homes and Community Renewal to establish the new Neighborhood Revitalization Program and provide grants for not-for-profit organizations and municipalities throughout the state to rehabilitate, repair and improve homes.

“Abandoned and foreclosed ‘zombie properties’ drag down surrounding home values and can impact the economic health and public safety of entire communities,” Governor Cuomo said. “With these new programs, we are taking action to crack down on these neighborhood blights, and help more New Yorkers achieve and maintain the American Dream of homeownership.”

Neighborhood Revitalization Program:
The Homes and Community Renewal’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program will help subsidize and finance the purchase and renovation of up to 500 foreclosed and abandoned properties for low- and middle-income New Yorkers.

The new NRP strengthens communities by preventing further decline of property values and neighborhoods due to blight, restoring properties to the tax rolls and providing communities with the revenue necessary for municipal services. The program is vital to preserving the integrity and safety of low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by vacant and abandoned properties.

The NRP is administered by HCR's State of New York Mortgage Agency. Using data and working with local nonprofits and municipalities, SONYMA identified six target communities with a high concentration of zombie properties that are undermining coordinated local government investment in housing and economic development.

These communities have an owner-occupancy rate that sustains homeownership, a track record of strong partnerships with experienced nonprofit housing agencies that provide homeownership counseling and additional sources of gap funding. In each community, SONYMA will work with experienced real estate professionals, housing nonprofits, and mortgage lenders to identify and market eligible properties, locate qualified buyers, determine the scope and cost of renovations, and structure the mortgages. Local nonprofit homeownership counseling agencies will help administer the program and provide homebuyer education, prescreen prospective buyers, and help access additional available subsidies and resources. These agencies are responsible for ensuring that renovations are code compliant. SONYMA also requires prospective purchasers to complete a homebuyer education class as a prerequisite to receiving funds through the NRP.

Financed with $22 million in JPMorgan Chase settlement funds, NRP home purchases will be made through SONYMA’s Purchase Renovation Mortgage, which allows qualified low- and middle-income buyers to receive up to $20,000 in additional funds for home improvements with zero interest, does not increase their mortgage payments and is forgiven over time. This financing can be used with other subsidies or grants and can be applied to all renovation expenses, permit fees, consultant fees, inspection fees and contingency funds.

The program will be implemented in the following communities:

  • Capital Region: Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program
  • Finger Lakes: Greater Rochester Housing Partnership
  • Hudson Valley: RUPCO, PathStone and Rural Development Advisory Council
  • Long Island: Long Island Housing Partnership and CDC Long Island
  • New York City: Center for New York City Neighborhoods, NHS and Restored Homes HDFC

The NRP builds on the success of the Governor’s program announced last year designating industry best practices for banks and mortgage companies with a portfolio of abandoned properties. Under the terms of the program, abandoned and vacant properties are also being reported by banks and mortgage companies for inclusion in a state registry under the New York State Department of Financial Services. The New York State Department of Financial Services can then work with local officials to track and address these issues with the bank or mortgage company servicing the loan.

Grants to Support Existing Vulnerable Homeowners Repair, Improve and Remain in Their Homes:
Governor Cuomo also announced $27 million in available state and federal funding to provide resources to repair and improve homes belonging to the elderly, Veterans, Medicaid recipients, people with disabilities, and low-income families and individuals. The funds are provided through a variety of programs administered by New York State Home and Community Renewal.

Grant awards per program are as follows:

  • $15 million in NYS Community Development Block Grant funding for housing rehabilitation, homeownership, manufactured housing replacement, well and septic replacement, and lateral connection assistance for low- and middle-income income individuals and families.
  • $6 million in Access to Home for Veterans funding for permanent accessibility modifications to existing owner-occupied or rental dwelling units occupied by low-income veterans with disabilities.
  • $1 million in Access to Home Program grant funding for permanent accessibility modifications to existing owner-occupied or rental dwelling units occupied by low-income persons with disabilities.
  • $1 million in Access to Home for Medicaid Recipients Program funding for permanent accessibility modifications to existing owner-occupied or rental dwelling units occupied by persons with disabilities that also receive Medicaid assistance.
  • $3.9 million in RESTORE Program grant funds to cover the cost of emergency repairs in homes owned by low- income elderly persons.

Grant applications to assist existing homeowners will be available starting on June 27th. For more information and to apply, please visit http://www.nyshcr.org/Funding/Awards/.

Congressman Dan Donovan said: “As Staten Island and South Brooklyn continue their recovery, we must have an eye toward the long-term growth and sustainability of these neighborhoods. Abandoned properties are an inconvenience to neighbors, but also an obstacle to reviving the communities that Sandy devastated. The problem must be addressed, and I thank Governor Cuomo for making this issue a priority.”

Congressman Eliot Engel, Senior Member of the House of Energy and Commerce Committee said: "Zombie properties have become a significant issue in areas of my district. These often unkempt plots of land devalue the homes surrounding them and can stifle community development. I applaud Governor Cuomo for making a significant financial commitment to tackle this issue head on, and I look forward to seeing these dollars at work in our neighborhoods.”

Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey said: “Affordable homeownership is a key part of the American dream. That’s why federal investments that make programs like the NYS Homes and Community Renewal’s Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which I’ve worked to provide through the Congressional spending bills, are essential. So called “zombie properties” are a blight on our communities, and these investments will help homeowners repair and renovate so that they can stay in their homes.”

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said: “My neighbors in Middletown, and throughout the Hudson Valley, struggle to bear the burden of abandoned “zombie” homes which are often unsafe and are a drain on our local economies. Working together with Governor Cuomo we can help hard-working New Yorkers buy their own homes while cleaning-up abandoned and dangerous properties and spurring local development.”

Congressman Charles B. Rangel said: “I applaud the announcement today of new funds to address the continuing blight of abandoned properties in our neighborhoods. Increasing the supply of quality affordable housing remains our top priority. I thank Governor Cuomo for his partnership in this initiative, which will also assist local families with needed home repairs and renovations and improve our local economy.”

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter said: “Zombie homes often become a blight on our neighborhoods and a major health and safety concern. That’s why I’ve been working to protect Rochester communities and reverse the national epidemic of abandoned homes. I’m pleased that this funding will help renovate vacant and abandoned properties and help more homeowners stay in their homes.”

Congressman Paul Tonko said: "Too many people are still in great need of affordable housing throughout the Capital Region, and neighbor management must be approached in a more innovative fashion. Thankfully, the NRP is building on the progress we’ve made so far. Young, first-time homebuyers will also have a greater reason to reinvest in our communities by purchasing and revitalizing distressed properties. I am pleased the Governor has made this announcement, and I look forward to working with his office on a federal level to ensure communities throughout New York continue to receive this important funding."

Congressman Lee Zeldin said: “It's important that we act to help struggling families, especially those on Long Island where the cost of living is so high. The expansion of funding to repair “zombie” properties and increase affordable housing on Long Island is a critical initiative. I am proud to support efforts that provide families with access to safe and affordable housing.”

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said: “Preserving and strengthening neighborhoods throughout New York State is a longstanding priority that Governor Cuomo and I share. The Neighborhood Revitalization Program is another way for New Yorkers to achieve the ‘American Dream’ of home ownership. Communities are reinvigorated by homes that again are occupied and the additional tax revenues help ease the burden on struggling local governments. This is an excellent program on many levels.”

Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee Chair Betty Little said: “Home ownership remains a dream for many. For others, who already own a home but live on a limited income, keeping it habitable is a constant source of financial and mental stress. That’s why I am pleased my legislative colleagues and I could collaborate with Governor Cuomo to respond on two fronts. First, and most visibly, by taking on the scourge of zombie properties in the communities where they are prevalent and creating homeownership opportunity in place of blight. Second, and equally important, making available millions in funds to help current homeowners repair, improve and stay in their homes. The peace of mind that these grants will provide is invaluable.”

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner James S. Rubin said: “Governor Cuomo’s goal is to see that people have the opportunity to buy and own a home in the neighborhood of their choice that they can afford over the long-term. We all are deeply aware of the distress, both physical and from a human perspective that these Zombie properties confer on these communities. That’s why this Administration has created the Neighborhood Revitalization Program to reinvest directly in these hundreds of buildings in the neighborhoods across the state that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis. Through NRP, we are working closely with nonprofits and municipalities to provide renovation and mortgage financing for qualified prospective homebuyers who will help restore these homes and make them their own. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, we are rebuilding communities and putting a stop to encroaching blight.”

Maria T. Vullo, Financial Services Acting Superintendent said: “Governor Cuomo and HCR are taking necessary action to provide New Yorkers a helping hand to transform zombie properties into affordable homes and breathe new life into communities across the Empire State. This action successfully builds upon the best practices that DFS developed in coordination with the majority of banks and mortgage companies doing business in New York to ensure that vacant and abandoned properties are safe and properly maintained.”

This new round of resources builds on the $59 million that municipalities and not-for-profit organizations are currently eligible for to construct, rehabilitate and improve owner-occupied homes. Applications are due July 8th. More information can be found here.

The NPR and new grants are part of Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented commitment to affordable housing and community renewal, which includes $20 billion in the 2016-17 state budget for comprehensive statewide housing and homelessness action plans. Over the next five years, the $10 billion housing initiative will create and preserve 100,000 affordable housing units across the State, and the $10 billion homelessness action plan will create 6,000 new supportive housing beds, 1,000 emergency beds, and a variety of expanded homelessness services.

For more details about the Neighborhood Revitalization Program, please visit: www.sonyma.org or call 1-800-382-4663.

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