Homeowners in neighborhoods in Chautauqua County where even just one vacant and deteriorating house is like an apple rotting in the barrel can at last take heart.
They will not have to watch helplessly as their own property values decline while government goes through a long and excruciating process to get that house fixed up or have it torn down.
The new land bank organization being created in the county under state legislation is aimed squarely at preserving - or restoring - the integrity of their neighborhoods by getting rid of dilapidated structures or redeveloping the abandoned properties.
The New York law is modeled on a successful land bank program in Michigan that was enacted, quite honestly, out of pure desperation.
Michigan had a convoluted, time-consuming tax foreclosure process that mired tax reverted properties in a legal limbo for years on end. In some cases, properties were off the tax rolls and simply sitting vacant for as long as seven years. They were such potent drivers of urban decline in Flint that finally the Michigan State Legislature stepped in with a streamlined system capable of moving tax-reverted properties toward productive use within just two and a half years.
From that state legislation came the Genesee County Land Bank in Flint - an organization that assembles land for transfer to adjacent homeowners, develops long and short-term green spaces, and assembles land for new housing and commercial development.
It is working. Neighborhoods are being stabilized; property values are being revitalized.
In writing about just one aspect of what the Genesee Land Bank does, Jordan Talbot of New York's Empire State Future Coalition cites a study by the University of Michigan of the $3.5 million invested by the Land Bank in demolishing more than 800 structures.
The university study found that ridding neighborhoods of those deteriorated structures increased surrounding property values in neighborhoods by over $112 million.
And now, as you have read, Chautauqua County is one of five local governments selected to establish a similar land bank program under legislation enacted last year by the New York Legislature.
The land bank is just getting under way. It gives homeowners in distressed neighborhoods the hope that Michigan's success may be repeated here.