January 18, 2018
Albany, NY

Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of Program to Renovate "Zombie" Properties and Increase Homeownership in Schenectady

TOP Governor Cuomo Announces Launch of Program to...

Neighborhood Revitalization Program Expands to Help Low- and Middle- Income Residents Buy and Renovate Vacant, Distressed Properties in Schenectady County

City-Wide Vacant and Abandoned Property Open House on Sunday, January 21

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in Schenectady County to help new homebuyers purchase and renovate abandoned and foreclosed "Zombie" properties. The program will help low- and middle- income residents subsidize and finance the purchase and renovation of vacant and distressed properties in Schenectady County. The program's expansion into Schenectady County complements efforts already taking place in communities throughout the Capital Region, Finger Lakes, Mid-Hudson Valley, Long Island and New York City regions.

"This administration is focused on combatting zombie properties, which blight neighborhoods, drive down property values and add additional burdens to property taxpayers," Governor 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 New York State Home and Community Renewal Neighborhood Revitalization Program, which is sponsored by the State of New York Mortgage Agency and in partnership with Better Neighborhoods, Inc., offers qualified, low- and middle- income homebuyers the opportunity to purchase a vacant one - four family house or condo for their primary residence. A house or condo can be purchased with a SONYMA mortgage combined with a Neighborhood Revitalization Program loan for up to $20,000 in financial assistance to repair and renovate the property.

The program strengthens communities by restoring properties to the tax rolls, preventing further decline of property values and neighborhoods due to blight, and providing communities with the revenue necessary for municipal services. The program is vital to preserving the integrity and safety of low-income communities that are disproportionately affected by vacant and abandoned properties. 

In 2016, SONYMA launched NRP in six target communities with a high concentration of zombie properties that are undermining coordinated investments by local governments in housing and economic development. 

These communities have an owner-occupancy rate that sustains homeownership and a track record of strong partnerships with experienced nonprofit housing agencies that provide homeownership counseling and additional sources of gap funding.

In each community, SONYMA works with experienced local government, real estate, housing nonprofits, and mortgage professionals to identify and market eligible properties, locate qualified buyers, determine the scope and cost of renovations, and structure the mortgages. Local nonprofit homeownership counseling agencies help administer the program and provide homebuyer education, prescreen prospective buyers, and help access additional available subsidies and resources. SONYMA ensures that renovations are code compliant and requires prospective purchasers to complete a homebuyer education class as a prerequisite to receiving funds through the NRP. 

The City of Schenectady will host a city-wide vacant and abandoned property open house for potential homebuyers on Sunday, January 21. For more details about the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in Schenectady, please visit: better-neighborhoods.org or call 518-372-6469.

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Vacant and distressed homes are more than just an eyesore. These blighted properties destabilize the community and create severe economic and social challenges for local governments. We are so pleased to bring this innovative program to Schenectady County and build upon the Governor's investment in increasing affordable homeownership opportunities throughout New York."

Senator Jim Tedisco said, "This new expansion will help rejuvenate several 'zombie properties' and enable more residents in Schenectady to find a place to call home. It's a win-win-win for the city, residents and taxpayers."

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said, "In upstate cities like Schenectady, I know we have strong partnerships committed to strengthening our neighborhoods, protecting our residents. Together we have taken action to fight the zombies that have plagued our communities, unveiling the 'Be A Good Neighbor Campaign', passing the NY State Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act and now launching the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. This new initiative builds on the success we have seen, supports our on-going efforts to remove blight and brings new opportunities for homeownership here in the City of Schenectady."

Assemblyman Phil Steck said, "Zombie properties are a blight on our communities, attracting crime and decreasing property values for other homeowners in their neighborhoods. This program is a win-win - it will help rehabilitate these properties and clean up our communities while increasing affordable housing opportunities for local families looking for their piece of the American Dream. I'm thrilled to join New York State Homes and Community Renewal in their efforts to revitalize our neighborhoods and help make Schenectady an even better place to live."

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy said, "Vacant and distressed properties continue to be a major burden on city resources. For the past six years our Homeownership Made Easy in Schenectady Program has built partnerships between realtors, lenders, and community organizations to promote and facilitate homeownership. The Neighborhood Revitalization Program will be a significant additional tool for us to strengthen those efforts. I would like to thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Visnauskas for offering this vital rehab assistance program for homebuyers in Schenectady." 

Schenectady City Council President Ed Kosiur said, "We are very excited to be able to offer this Neighborhood Revitalization Program here in Schenectady. Vacant properties drain taxpayer resources and harm the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Thank you Governor Cuomo for helping us combat blight in our neighborhoods."

James Flacke, Executive Director, Better Neighborhoods, Inc. said, "BNI looks forward to the opportunities to improve homes that are made available through this partnership of NYSHCR, SONYMA, the City of Schenectady as well as the Land Bank. I see this effort as a unique effort to help homebuyers purchase city-owned property and improve our neighborhoods."

Paul Hurley, CRA Mortgage Originator, M&T Bank said, "The expansion of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program in Schenectady County is an exciting moment. This program helps empower people to pursue the dream of homeownership, while at the same time creating positive change in our neighborhoods and in the lives of the people who call it home. Through our partnership with SONMYA, we look forward to providing local homeowners the funding they need to participate in the NRP, and we congratulate NYS HCR on the expansion of this important community program."

Financed with $22 million in JPMorgan Chase settlement funds, NRP home purchases are made using SONYMA's RemodelNY Purchase Renovation Mortgage Program, which allows qualified low- and middle- income buyers to purchase their primary residence and include the cost of renovations in their mortgage based on what the house will be worth once the work is complete. The NRP enables buyers to receive up to $20,000 in additional funds for home improvements with zero interest and no increase to their mortgage payments. The NRP loan is forgiven over 10 years. This financing can be used with other subsidies or grants and can be applied to all renovation expenses, permit fees, consultant fees, inspection fees and contingency funds.

The program is active in the following communities:

  • Rensselaer County: Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program 
  • Rochester: Greater Rochester Housing Partnership
  • Orange County and Kingston: RUPCO, PathStone and Rural Development Advisory Council
  • Long Island: Long Island Housing Partnership and CDC Long Island
  • New York City: Center for New York City Neighborhoods, NHS and Restored Homes HDFC
  • Buffalo: Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency
  • Schenectady County: Better Neighborhoods, Inc.

For more information on SONYMA products and services, please visit: www.sonyma.org or call 1-800-382-4663.

Contact the Governor's Press Office
Contact the Governor's Press Office