New initiative announced to combat ‘zombie properties’ in Schenectady

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Battling the burden of zombie properties is a continued effort in the City of Schenectady.

Now, homebuyers are getting a little extra help to buy and renovate abandoned homes.

There is another push to turn around vacant properties and make the process more affordable for homebuyers looking to make their mark on a fixer-upper.

Schenectady has been home to Mello McCarthy for the last year and a half. Next door, the property is sitting vacant for just as long.

“Maybe a little longer than that so it’s pretty quiet.”

Now, it’s a promising sign to neighbors as the city is launching a new state-backed program to help families afford a fixer-upper.

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program offers both down payment assistance and a 0 percent $20,000 loan for renovations.

“Everyone sees zombie properties and don’t know what to do with them, right? They’re plaguing our upstate cities,” RuthAnne Visnauskas, of New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner, said. “They’re an eyesore, a physical eyesore, they’re an economic eyesore. So this program allows people to get grant funds to renovate those homes.”

Fighting blight has been an uphill battle in the city.

Homes may seem in good condition, but when vacant for at least a year, neighbors worry about what you can’t see.

“These problems didn’t develop overnight and we are not going to solve the problems overnight. But we keep looking for incentives and opportunities for people,” Mayor Gary McCarthy said.

Opportunites to build a home and a life in the Electric City.

“If we had a lot more assistance to help the homeowners out, people would love to move to neighborhoods like this instead of just settling where they can move and where they can afford,” Mello said.

On Sunday, five vacant homes are hosting open houses.

“This administration is focused on combatting zombie properties, which blight neighborhoods, drive down property values and add additional burdens to property taxpayers,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “By investing in the construction of safe, affordable homes, New York is restoring our communities, strengthening neighborhoods, and helping to ensuring homeownership remains within reach for all in Schenectady County and across this great state.”

The main features of the state’s Neighborhood Revitalization program include up to $20,000 cash assistance to renovate the buyer’s purchase, the ability to finance additional improvements into a mortgage, and can be combined with other grants and assistance programs. The income limit for one to two person households is $124,650 and the income limit for three or more people is $143,340.

Learn more by visiting the City of Schenectady’s website.

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