Construction begins on zombie properties in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The city of Schenectady is taking charge over zombie properties.

Abandoned properties that are literally falling apart are scattered across the Capital Region. They’re known as zombie properties, and they’re not just an eyesore but also dangerous.

Officials in Schenectady are saying enough is enough. They have teamed up with several companies to start renovations.

Yuseff Criss is a YouthBuild worker. Like other builders, he has a vision to turn Schenectady around. But there’s much more behind his actions, and it all starts with his troubled past.

“I was in trouble with the law,” he said. “I went to prison at 16.”

That’s when he knew he needed to change.

“Going to jail is not the best thing,” he said. “That’s not a lifestyle you’ll like, and I definitely didn’t like it, and it sat me down and it gave me time to think about what I really want to do and who I really want to be in life.”

On Tuesday, he became a leader to renovate the hundreds of vacant homes in Schenectady.

“Well, it’s somewhat of an urban problem,” Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said.

Preparations have already begun on the first property located on Vale Place.

“We have a developer who’s working on the house next door, so again, this neighborhood is moving in the right direction,” McCarthy said.

Construction will be done on the Vale Place home from morning to afternoon every few days until the job is done.

“We’ve identified we do need investment in our neighborhoods,” Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said. “Part of that is removing some of the old buildings and rebuilding. Part of that is salvaging like what we’re seeing here.”

Once the construction is finished, a family will be able to move in to the Vale Place home, and then workers can move on to the next property.

“This is what’s making a difference for places like the city of Schenectady,” Santabarbara said.

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