Land Bank wants $ 100,000 CDBG loan through Schenectady to rehabilitate Prospect Street house

City council should help provide the Capital Region Land Bank with the financial means to reinvent a dilapidated two-family residence that has been vacant for at least four years.

As part of the city’s ongoing efforts to eradicate the scourge in the Eastern Avenue neighborhood, where 25 properties have been demolished, council will vote on whether to authorize a $ 100,000 federal loan for community development. of the Capital Region Land Bank to rehabilitate 110 Prospect St.

The council’s finance committee gave unanimous approval last week.

The work would mimic what was done near 760 Eastern Avenue, a land property whose outdated layout was overcome by Habitat for Humanity volunteers from Schenectady County. Work at 760 Eastern Ave. is at an end.

The rehabilitation of Habitat for Humanity, a pilot project with the land bank, provided a new layout of the two-family apartment that prevails in Schenectady.

Both units had a living room, a formal dining room, and a hallway that led to four small bedrooms with small closets, with a kitchen at the back of the units.

“We don’t live like this anymore,” said David Hogenkamp, ​​project director of the Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority.

With multigenerational living in mind, the rehabilitation created a two-story main apartment that moved the kitchen and living room to noisier street level. Three larger bedrooms and an office have been added to the rear of the property.

Meanwhile, there is a separate bedroom efficiency on the second floor which could be used for a in-laws or an income generating unit.

“You’re more in a situation where I maybe have a bigger family, and maybe I want a little more space, but I still want the rental income,” Hogenkamp said. “Or maybe I’m at the point in my life where I need a room and use the rental income to allow someone else to move into the larger unit. “

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Madelyn Thorne said it was the first time that Schenectady Habitat had worked on a house with an income apartment.

“It’s genius. It’s all his, ”Thorne said of Hogenkamp. “And that [the efficiency unit] will make this even more affordable. It is a great idea for a Habitat owner to be able to have this extra income.

Agencies will ‘overlap’ a number of different funding sources, make sure homeowners are aware of the different mortgage programs available to their potential buyer.

“It was a tough project,” Thorne said. ” It’s a lot of work. We did it in the midst of COVID and with a minimum number of volunteers we could hire. So I’m really, really proud that the volunteers have stayed with us.

Without the benefit of the volunteer program, the project at 110, rue Prospect will have the the land bank works in collaboration with the city and graduates from its Section 3 training program, Hogenkamp said.

The city’s affirmative action office provided classroom building courses to residents of Section 3 of Schenectady, which is intended for low-income residents and residents who live in social housing. It is administered by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

City officials approached the land bank about a partnership, Hogenkamp said, crediting Affirmative Action Director Ron Gardner for doing “a wonderful job creating new programs for people in the community to gain employment opportunities.”

“Whether it’s you, me, or anyone else, when you start one of these drug rehabs, you start with high goals and objectives and a lot of enthusiasm,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy of merits of the project. “Go halfway there, and you say why the hell did I go in there?” ”

‘Good opportunity’

Hogenkamp said he plans that the land bank will invest an additional $ 100,000, including for design costs and asbestos removal. Work is scheduled to begin this construction season. It could be done by the end of the year.

The property will likely be offered for sale for $$ 185,000 to $ 200,000 to a buyer who committed to homeownership and meets guidelines for affordable housing, Hogenkamp said.

“We could sell it for a little bit of a loss,” he said. “But what we’re going to do is make this a good long term homeownership opportunity, using various programs out there” for qualified buyers.

The Land Bank is supervised by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority. The Schenectady land bank has existed since 2014. The state promulgated land banks in 2012.

The land bank has provided more than $ 9 million in grants for projects, the majority of which came from bank settlements after the mortgage foreclosure crisis in late 2008.

“It was a really good way for the state to recognize that the foreclosure crisis is not just due to bad mortgages,” Hogenkamp said. “We had this abundance of vacant and abandoned properties that had deteriorated to such an extent that they were of no value.”

The Prospect Street project sits across from a new LEED certified house that the land bank built using participants from the YouthBuild Schenectady Social Enterprise and Training Center. Two properties were razed to make room for this project.

More than 25 dilapidated properties have been demolished in the Eastern Avenue neighborhood.

Hogenkamp said the Prospect Street property adds to “a healthy mix of opportunities for homeowners and renters’ in the neighborhood.

“IIf we can continue to promote home ownership there, that will only stabilize the neighborhood more, for sure, ”he said.

Hogenkamp said the land bank will continue its work in the neighborhoods. He invested over $ 100 million in Hamilton Hill, when there was 44 demolitions at Mount Pleasant between shore and town.

“The value of people’s homes is dramatically affected if they’re right next to a vacant property, and $ 70,000,” they say at first, is what that could lower the value of your home. Yesou take the worst from the worst, ”he said.

In 2019, the Eastern Avenue neighborhood received a major boost when New York State Homes and Community Renewal approved the housing tax credits needed to complete funding for the $ 19 million Renaissance Square project. .

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