Grant targets abandoned city homes

Housing Resources receives $250K to rehab, resell properties 

HUDSON–The recession has taken its toll on this region, but a new report from the Brookings Institution confirms what local real estate experts have said from the beginning of the economic downturn, that the home foreclosure rate in the Capital Region is low by national standards.

But the housing market has not escaped altogether, especially poorer neighborhoods. “We certainly have our share of abandoned and vacant homes,” Hudson Mayor Rick Scalera said this week. He said in some places neighborhoods are interrupted by several unoccupied homes in a row.

Recently the area received some good news on the housing front with the announcement that

Housing Resources of Columbia County, Inc. (HRCC) would receive a $250,000 state grant to purchase foreclosed, abandoned properties, rehabilitate them and sell them to low- and moderate-income families.

The funding, which comes through the state Housing Finance Agency for the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), will allow Housing Resources to target foreclosed properties in the Hudson area.

“We were awarded the funds in response to the foreclosure crisis,” said Stephanie Lane, deputy director of HRCC in a press release. “The goal is to purchase 10 units in the target area, primarily Hudson, affected by foreclosure, vacancy and abandonment. The program allows us to acquire, rehab and resell the properties in high-risk areas.”

In a telephone interview this week Ms. Lane said the area where houses are eligible for funding through the program is actually “a fairly small area of the city.” She said the area was defined by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development based on information supplied by her organization.

She could not say how many homes in that area of the city have been foreclosed, but she said “the numbers are increasing.”

HRCC is a private, not-for-profit organization created in 1984 to serve the City of Hudson’s affordable housing needs. In 1995 the organization expanded its services countywide. It offers counseling, programs and funding related to housing, and manages and develops affordable housing projects throughout Columbia County.

Ms. Lane described the grant as “not enough” to address the need in the city. “But it’s a start,” she said.

When the work to rehab the buildings is completed, the units will be offered for resale or rental.

Qualified households buying the properties must have annual income between 50% and 120% of median income, a higher income threshold than typical grant programs, according to the release. Housing Resources is searching for appropriate properties and has four years to complete the program. The agency expects to complete the project by April 2013.

Eligible families will be required to complete the HRCC Home Buyer Education curriculum and will receive individual credit counseling . In addition, clients choosing to purchase an NSP home will be required to participate in post-purchase foreclosure prevention counseling, to ensure sustainable homeownership in the future and to further stabilize the local community.

“The whole purpose is stabilizing neighborhoods,” Ms. Lane of the counseling and training that will accompany the purchase of these homes. Her organization has not yet developed a list of potential buyers or renters, but she said, “We have a pipeline” of people who may qualify.

The release says the City of Hudson is considered a high risk for foreclosure. And Ms. Lane confirmed that properties purchased with NSP funds must be vacant, foreclosed or abandoned properties in the target area of the program. They also have to be rehabbed using specified guidelines.

Mayor Scalera agrees with Ms. Lane that the amount of money in the grant will address only part of the need the city has to get properties occupied and back on the tax rolls. He singled out a section of State Street as one place where multiple vacant buildings are a threat to the neighborhood. Like Ms. Lane, the mayor did not have a tally of the number of abandoned homes, but he said some of the structures aren’t salvageable and will have to be demolished.

To remove or rehab these buildings will take “a bigger pot of money,” something he and other city officials are pursuing right now, possibly through a Small Cities program grant due early next year. The mayor did not know whether federal economic stimulus money would be available to fund this effort.

In the meantime, the city has two adjacent properties at 325-327 State Street that the Common Council has already agreed to sell to HRCC for $35,000. Mr. Scalera said the council voted to sell the buildings two months ago, but HRCC has not yet acted on the offer.

HRCC’s offices at 252 Columbia Street are open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The phone number is (518) 822-0707.

To contact Parry Teasdale email .

Comments are closed.