Land Bank Seeks $ 100,000 CDBG Loan Through Schenectady to Renovate a House on Prospect Street

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The City Council is expected to help ensure Capital Region land bank with funds to rethink a damaged two-family home that has been empty for at least four years.

With the city’s ongoing efforts to root out the vice in the Eastern Avenue neighborhood, where 25 homes have been demolished, the council will vote on whether to allow a federal loan of $ 100,000 under the Social Development Block Grant to the Metropolitan Region Land Bank for the rehabilitation of 110 Prospect St.

Last week, the board’s finance committee unanimously approved.

The work will mimic what was done at the adjacent section of 760 Eastern Ave., a land bank whose outdated layout was overcome by Schenectady County Habitat for Humanity volunteers. Work at 760 Vostochny Avenue is already in its final stages.

Rehabilitation Habitat for Humanity, a pilot project with a land bank, has provided new layout of a two-family apartment common in Schenectady.

Both rooms used to have a living room, a dining room and a corridor leading to four small bedrooms with small wardrobes, and the kitchen was at the back of the apartments.

“We just don’t live like that anymore,” said David Hogenkamp, ​​project director for the Schenectady Metro Development Authority.

With the lives of several generations in mind, the rehab center created a main two-story apartment that relocated the kitchen and living room to a noisier street level. At the back of the house were three larger bedrooms and a study.

Meanwhile, there is a separate one-bedroom apartment on the second floor that can be used as a home for a mother-in-law or to generate income.

“You are more in a situation where maybe I have a big family and maybe I need a little more space, but I still want to earn rental income,” Hogenkamp said. “Or maybe I’m at a stage in my life where I need a one-bedroom bedroom and I’m using the rental income to allow someone else to settle in a larger home.”

Habitat for Humanity executive director Madeleine Thorne said Schenectady Habitat is working on a home that has a profitable apartment for the first time.

“This is a genius. Everything belongs to him, ”Thorne said of Hogenkamp. “And this [the efficiency unit] will make it even more accessible. It is a great idea for a Habitat homeowner to have additional income. “

Agencies will overlay a range of different funding sources, make sure the homeowner is aware of the various mortgage programs available to his potential buyer.

“It was a challenging project,” Thorne said. “This is a lot of work. We did it in the midst of COVID and with the fewest volunteers we could attract. So I’m really very proud that the volunteers stayed with us. “

Without a volunteer program, project 110 Prospect St. the land bank works in conjunction with the city and – graduates of the Section 3 training program, said Hogenkamp.

The City Office of the Affirmative Action Program conducts classroom building courses for the residents of Section 3 of Schenectady, which is intended for low-income residents and residents living in public housing. It is administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

According to Hogenkamp, ​​the city authorities have approached the land bank with a request for a partnership. Ron Gardner, Director of the Affirmative Action Program, for his “enormous work in creating new programs for people in the local community to get jobs.”

“Whether it is you, me, or someone else, when you start one of these rehab, you start with high goals and objectives and with a lot of enthusiasm,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said of the project’s merits. “Go through half of this and you say, why the hell did I get into this?”

‘Good opportunity’

Hogenkamp said he assumes that the land bank will invest another $ 100,000, including on the cost of designing and removing asbestos. Work is due to start this construction season. This can be done before the end of the year.

The property is likely to be listed for sale for $$ 185,000 to $ 200,000 for a buyer who She is committed to home ownership and meets the requirements for affordable housing, Hogenkamp said.

“We could sell it at a small loss,” he said. “But what we’re going to do is make it a good, long-term homeownership opportunity through a variety of programs” for qualified buyers.

The land bank is controlled by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority. The Schenectady Land Bank has existed since 2014. In 2012, the state passed a law on land banks.

The land bank has has brought in more than $ 9 million in grants for projects, most of which fell on bank settlements after the mortgage foreclosure crisis in late 2008.

“It was a really good way for the government to recognize that the foreclosure crisis was not just due to bad mortgages,” Hogenkamp said. “We had such an abundance of vacant and abandoned property that was so dilapidated that it had no value.”

The Prospect Street project is across the street from a new LEED-certified home that the land bank has built with help from social enterprise members and the YouthBuild Schenectady training center. Two properties were demolished to make way for this project.

In the Eastern Avenue area, more than 25 destroyed houses were demolished.

Hogenkamp said the Prospect Street property adds “ a healthy mix of opportunities for homeowners and renters’ next door.

“IIf we can continue to promote home ownership there, it will surely further stabilize the area, ”he said.

Hogenkamp said the land bank will continue to operate in the neighborhoods. He has invested over $ 100 million in Hamilton Hill while 44 demolitions in Mont Pleasant between the land bank and the city.

“People’s home values ​​are significantly affected if they are near unoccupied property, and $ 70,000, they first say, is something that can lower the value of your home. Yyou remove the worst from the worst, ”he said.

In 2019, the Eastern Avenue area received a major boost when the New York State Department of Housing and Renewal approved the housing tax credits required to complete the $ 19 million funding for the Renaissance Square project.

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