LOCKPORT – The city will be offering buyers of homes at Tuesday’s tax foreclosure auction incentives to help them make the houses livable.
The city has $50,000 available for low-interest loans to purchasers who live in the house they just bought, who reduce the number of dwelling units in the structure or who make major investments in renovation, said R. Charles Bell, director of development and planning.
The money comes not from the regular city budget, but from repayments of loans the city has been making to low- to moderate-income homebuyers for many years through annual federal housing grants.
Forty properties are scheduled to go up for bids at 6 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall. Bidder registration begins at 5.
The lineup includes 20 single-family homes, 10 multiple dwellings, nine vacant lots, all but one of those in residential areas, and a garage.
Almost all of the properties are in the northern and central parts of the city.
City Treasurer Michael E. White said the total amount of property taxes written off on the parcels for sale is $250,687. The total assessed value of the 40 properties is $1.47 million.
The only two commercial buildings that had been on the auction list, a used-car dealership and an auto repair shop, both on West Avenue, were removed because of legal proceedings, White said.
Unlike Niagara County, the City of Lockport does not allow last-minute tax payments to prevent properties from foreclosure. Sept. 12 was the deadline for redemption through paying off the taxes. “Basically, the goal here is to encourage people who buy the properties to live on-site and to reduce the amount of units in some of these,” Bell said.
In order for the money to be lent, work plans for renovations must be agreed upon between the city and the successful bidder, he said. “It’s going to be, to a certain extent, case-by-case,” Bell said of the loan program.
“This is not an upfront promise on any one of those properties. However, if you meet any of those conditions, I want to sit down with you and come up with a work plan.”
Bell added, “We want to keep properties out of out-of-town landlords’ hands. We want to reduce the number of units in some of these and make it more stable, and we want to improve the properties.
“The city would like to participate with a low-interest loan, a portion of which can be converted into a grant once the mission is accomplished.”
The purchase price at the auction isn’t relevant to whether the buyer will be considered for a loan, Bell said. “Frankly, this is a little bit of a trial run,” he said. “The hope would be that we learn some lessons on this, make a positive impact and then create a formal program with guidelines people can refer to.”
The auction lineup includes 170 Genesee St., a house once owned by a convicted drug dealer. The federal government announced plans to take the home in an asset-forfeiture case but never did so. It’s listed as a two-family residence, although Bell said he wants to see the buyer make it a single-family home.