Who needs the Kingston City Land Bank?

December 23, 2021

On behalf of all of us here at the Kingston City Land Bank, it is a pleasure to share with you this summary of some of our milestones in 2021.

We have made many great strides throughout this tumultuous year, but they all truly pale in comparison to having the first 3 families in our affordable homeownership program move into their new homes in time for the holidays. We completed this first phase of our pilot program on schedule, recently returning these long-vacant homes purchased from the City of Kingston for the full price of back-taxes to productive use.

With these sales, the properties were returned to the tax rolls, of course. More importantly, I believe, this milestone should be seen as a community-led source of pride for the future of our City. All 3 families, who are long-time Kingston residents, have moved into what we hope is a permanent place to call home for generations to come.

I am overwhelmingly proud to be part of such a scrappy, volunteer-led organization. My hope is the KCLB serves as a local beacon for the change that a few dedicated people can make when they decide to do so. We remain humble, take the work (but not ourselves!) seriously, and remain intentional in achieving realistic outcomes. Do yourself a favor and learn about our unique, talented, and growing team HERE.

We like to say that we build the most affordable, well-designed homes in our City. And we do. The concept of combining low-to-moderate first-time single-family homeownership with historic preservation is not a new one, but quality execution of this idea is indeed rare.

Because this is working, we received a lot of national (and even international) press this year, as folks recognized and celebrated what we were up to. We were thankful for their support of our model, but at the core: our business is local.

The commitment we have to our ongoing partnership with the Mayor and Council, without whose approval we would not have the opportunity to acquire properties and continue our work, is central to what we do. For this patient, necessary and enduring relationship with City Hall to keep our pipeline moving forward—rather than allowing speculative investors to purchase properties at auction or otherwise–we are very grateful.

However, the largest metric of our success has been, and will continue to be how you, the community of Kingston, think of what we are doing. Despite the current challenges in meeting face-to-face, in addition to our monthly public board meetings—generally held on the 4th Monday of each month via Zoom at 6:30pm—next year we will start holding regular public info sessions about our work. If conditions allow, we will probably also hold quarterly in-person meetings as well.

Please consider signing up for our mailing list HERE to become part of the conversation and be informed of the many opportunities we have planned next year…we need your input!

Unfortunately, living in what is suddenly and quite apparently the hottest real estate market in the United States is a recognition that many longtime residents may be forced out of our community, as housing prices and rents escalate dramatically.

Of course, identifying a problem does not mean we are the holistic experts to solve it. In addition to completing work on the final 2 homes in our pilot program, we were pleased earlier this year to launch our first community-led RFP for “as-is” properties, so that all of us at large can participate in the process.

In 2022, as we are able to purchase more properties from the City of Kingston, we will expand this program to provide as many opportunities as possible for community experts in affordable rental housing to open up new opportunities to stay in our city. To learn more about the 4 Pathways we use to return properties to the tax rolls, click HERE.

Also in 2022, our new Community Stewardship Program will allow us to directly connect with and pay directly for the time of community residents to amplify our message. This new program will seek to achieve a variety of community benefits to combat displacement, including providing first-time homeownership training.

Statewide, Albany has also recognized the value of the work of Land Banks by prioritizing the importance of our work in the State’s new 5-year housing plan. Substantively, this year the State has launched a new program to support our affordable housing rehab work, in partnership with M/WBE and BIPOC developer/contractors. This $25,000,000 entirely State-funded initiative will allow us to continue to place our current properties and future properties back on the tax rolls as affordable homes for our community, rather than opportunities for speculative investors.

Last month, we met our $30,000 fundraising goal to directly buy down the purchase price of the final 2 homes in our pilot program: 149 Greenkill and 124 Franklindirectly making them even more affordable for our community. Now, these homes are under constructionIt appears you think we are on the right track, and we humbly thank you for that!

If you’d like to support our ongoing work in 2022 and beyond, please consider contributing to our Holiday Fundraising Drive, going on until the end of the year.

Thank you!

Sincerely and In Partnership,

Mike Gilliard

Executive Director