The Monroe County Vacant and Abandoned Property Task Force recently celebrated its first anniversary of bringing stakeholders together to work on the problems created by vacant and abandoned properties.
To mark the occasion, the task force reflected on its accomplishments and announced new initiatives for the coming year, including a program that will help transfer bank-owned vacant properties to local nonprofits for rehabilitation and resale.
The task force is composed of local government representatives, nonprofit organizations, banks, housing representatives and concerned citizens. It has interviewed dozens of people, held multiple public workshops and met regularly to identify and work on issues related to vacant and abandoned properties.
“I am extraordinarily proud of what the Monroe County Vacant and Abandoned Property Task Force has accomplished to date,” said County Clerk Adam Bello, co-chairman of the task force. “We started this effort knowing there were a number of talented professionals working in isolation on the issue of vacant properties here in Monroe County, and their work could be harnessed and amplified if we put everyone around the same table, working together. Over the past 12 months, we’ve successfully collaborated to make enormous progress on an issue that affects every town, village and city in our community.”
“By bringing everyone together, the task force has accomplished a number of goals and has made real progress on this issue,” said Rebecca Caico, task force co-chairman and senior attorney at Empire Justice Center. “We’ve helped expand vacant housing rehabilitation programs to interested towns that border the city of Rochester, offered input on the state’s new vacant property registration law and helped secure funding for organizations working on the issue of vacant and abandoned properties.”
In addition to reviewing the first year’s accomplishments, the recent announcement included two new programs for 2017.
The task force has collaborated with several area financial institutions to link properties in their inventory that are suitable for donation to area nonprofits for rehabilitation and reuse. Under a partnership with Canandaigua National Bank, M&T Bank and Wells Fargo, the task force will serve as a clearinghouse for connecting them to area nonprofit organizations interested in taking title to and rehabilitating properties, making them productive again.
“The task force will be working with these local banks to link vacant bank-owned properties with area nonprofit organizations, with the goal of getting people back in these homes,” said Matthew Flanigan, of Flower City Habitat for Humanity and task force subcommittee chairman. “We are grateful for the commitment from our community partners and look forward to working collaboratively with those looking to help alleviate the burden of abandoned homes in our community.”
The task force will hold its first Home Fair will be Oct. 21. The free event will provide an opportunity to link organizations from within and outside the task force in various fields to the public, including home repair, home buyer programs, foreclosure prevention and landlord education.