Land Bank receives financial assistance | News, Sports, Jobs

It has been almost two years since the Chautauqua County Land Bank received state grants.

Due to the lack of financial support from the state, land bank officials have turned to local sources to acquire money to continue its programs in 2022.

Gina Paradis, executive director of the land bank, said land bank officials received a community development grant from the city of Dunkirk that will allow the organization to expand its Hands On Neighborhoods program to the municipality in 2022 .

The Hands On Neighborhoods program was a pilot program launched in Jamestown this year and developed by Chautauqua County Land Bank Corp. in collaboration with the City of Jamestown, Jamestown Renaissance Corp. and Zion Covenant Church.

Program sponsors include Lakeshore Savings Bank and Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, in addition to Jamestown Tarp Skunks, ERA Real Estate, Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation and the Jim Cama family.

The funding from Dunkirk will also be used for lead reduction for first-time buyers in the city.

Paradis said land bank officials also received a $ 300,000 grant from the Sheldon Foundation.

“The Ralph C. Sheldon Foundation recognizes the unique role of the land bank in improving housing in Chautauqua County while eliminating the scourge. “ said Linda Swanson, executive director of the Sheldon Foundation. “For this reason, the foundation is making a strategic investment in the land bank in 2022, as it faces the current challenges of the local real estate economy and seeks new sources of funding.”

Paradis said the Sheldon Foundation grant will partially support the administrative operations of the land bank, while the majority of the funds will be allocated to programs that impact healthy housing standards, including lead-free programs, primarily in Jamestown.

“The fact that the Sheldon Foundation has dedicated this funding to us, at this time, means a lot to our organization and our mission”, said Paradis. “We are touched by their recognition of the positive impacts we have had in the community, and strengthened by this support as we face the looming housing crisis caused by COVID. “

John Hemmer, county lawmaker and chairman of the land bank, said the land bank staff and board have done an excellent job of building up income pools, generated by housing sales under the scheme. Sales 4 Rehab program to help provide additional funding to maintain operations. , but the commitment of the Sheldon Foundation is much needed and “very appreciated.”

Paradis said land bank funding from the last grant he received from the state attorney general’s office, which is administered by Enterprise Community Partners and LISC, must be spent by the end of the first. quarter of 2022. The land bank in November 2018 received $ 2 million from the state during the fourth round of funding from the state attorney general’s office. In 2020, the land bank received additional funding of $ 500,000 from the state as part of a second funding phase in the fourth cycle.

“These funds from the last round had to be spent technically by the end of 2021. However, they extended our actual spending until the first quarter of 2022”, she said. “Many land banks were late due to COVID on some work, so now we have until the end of the first quarter to disperse the money. “

Paradis said the land reserve has about $ 300,000 of the grant, which will go towards demolitions and special projects.

“We have two renovation projects that we are undertaking which have been put on hold due to the tripling of construction costs”, she said. “In addition, we have demos underway, but not yet completed. “

Paradis said it is not known whether there will be a fifth round of funding from the state attorney general’s office, which secured the funding through settlements with the nation’s largest banks for misconduct. which contributed to the housing crisis. In the first round of funding in 2013, the county received $ 1.5 million. In the second round of funding in 2014, the county received $ 1.3 million. During the third round of funding in 2017, the county received $ 1.1 million.

In addition, there has been no progress in convincing state officials to include a dedicated line of funding in the state budget for land banks.

“So the funding that comes from the State is no longer there”, she said. “We still haven’t been able to negotiate a designated funding line (in the state budget.)

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