Community Capital New York is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that serves seven counties in the Lower Hudson Valley, encompassing a wide variety of cities, towns and villages, but none of them are as compelling as the City of Newburgh.
Today, Newburgh is a mix of opportunity and despair. Due to a variety of factors, the City has suffered from decades-long disinvestment, leaving it with approximately 700 vacant properties, over a quarter of which are tax foreclosed and most of which are located in the East End Historic District (see maps).
The Historic Districts in the City of Newburgh have the most contributing properties of any Historic District in the State of New York, and this rich architectural history should be an economic driver to the local economy. However, these same census tracts – 4 and 5 – are counted as two of the five poorest in the State, with 25.8% of the population living below the poverty line.
There is a proliferation of run down, vacant and collapsing buildings throughout these historic neighborhoods. The buildings are also old; over 70% of the housing units were built prior to 1950 . The age of the buildings is driving the unusually high cost for lead and asbestos abatement attendant to the redevelopment of almost every unit. Even those buildings that are falling down and hazardous are slow to be removed because the City will have to bear the expense of appropriate disposal of the lead and asbestos. And while developers can purchase homes off in rem rolls for a fraction of their potential value, few are willing to take on the risk.
This combination of old housing stock and abject poverty has left the City unable to successfully redevelop the neighborhoods around its downtown core. In a study commissioned by the Newburgh Community Land Bank, for profit and not for profit developers alike cited the issue of lead and asbestos remediation as the biggest barrier to redevelopment. These conditions have created a stalemate for the City, leaving the very heart of the community in a state of disrepair and continual disinvestment.