Of the past half decade, vacant and abandoned homes have become problem in Batavia, according to City Manager Jason Molino.
Vacant and abandoned homes bring down residential home values in the immediate area, attract crime, suck up city resources with code enforcement and police responses and eventually the city ends up paying for property clean-up.
On the other hand, a vacant home filled with a family adds $20,000 in retail buying power to the city's economy.
"Vacant homes are a burden on any municipality," Molino said. "Whether it's the resources we have to use to address them, the lack of buying power because of the vacancy, the deterioration of the home itself or the deterioration of the neighborhood around it, there's a lot of studies, a lot of data on the impact of vacant and abandoned homes and they have a negative impact."
Over the past two years, the City of Batavia has taken properties taken in foreclosure for lack of property tax payments and deeded the properties to Habitat for Humanity.
The program has proven a resounding success, Molino said. Properties restored by Habitat have increased in assessed value by 30 to 40 percent and are occupied by families that take care of the properties.
"You've got owner-occupants who take pride in their home," Molino said. "It's a good program. I wish we could do more of it."
One of the tasks for the yet-to-be-hired assistant city manager will be to look at ways to get more vacant and abandoned houses into the hands of responsible homeowners.
"With continued focus and leadership the city could make an aggressive effort to target four or five properties annually with more partnerships similar to that with Habitat for Humanity," Molino wrote in a report to City Council. "This includes several initiatives such as attempting taking title of abandoned properties quicker, greater accountability of mortgage holders and partnering with not-for-profits for rehabilitation and investment in these properties."
Monday night, the council approved the sale of four house seized for back taxes (six properties total). The houses are at 5-7 Buell St., 6 Madison Ave., 3 Manhattan Ave., and 11 S. Spruce St.
So far, there's no deal in place to deed one or more of the homes to Habitat, but Molino said such an arrangement is still possible. If an agreement is reached, the council would have to approve the transfer.
No date has been announced for auction of the seized properties.