Key to the City program getting partners

Anyone who buys a house through the city’s Key to the City program will also now get free bus rides

Anyone who buys a house through the city’s Key to the City program will also now get free bus rides for a year.

The new incentive will be announced at noon Sunday at the Rose Garden to kick off the city’s sixth monthly open house. City and school officials attend the open houses to answer questions about living in Schenectady and occasionally announce new initiatives to encourage home ownership. The goal of the program is selling the city’s vacant houses to owner-occupants, not landlords.

At Sunday’s open house, HUD Field Office Director Jaime E. Forero will acknowledge the city’s efforts.

“HUD has no greater mission than improving people’s lives and strengthening neighborhoods, and Schenectady’s Key to the City Homes initiative accomplishes both,” Forero said in a news release announcing Sunday’s event.

“I applaud Mayor McCarthy and the city’s business, civic and educational leaders for working together to make the Dream of Homeownership possible for many hard-working Schenectady residents. No one can argue that homeownership builds a family’s net worth, while, at the same time, energizes a neighborhood.”

CDTA officials will also announce the free bus program.

Each Key to the City homeowner will get two unlimited use, 31-day passes per month for a year.

They will be required to fill out a survey in advance on their bus-riding habits, and a second one at the end of the one-year program. CDTA wants to know whether the free bus passes change the way they travel.

Also Sunday, Building Inspector Eric Shilling will discuss the new Contract Rehab Program. Contractors can fill out applications to be qualified as bidders for the many rehab projects that will be available when the city forecloses on roughly 600 properties Aug. 31.

Contractors will be able to bid on specific jobs, based on the level of complexity that they have been qualified to perform. Shilling will write the specs for each house, one by one, and put them up for bids online, beginning in September.

The open house will start at the Rose Garden in Central Park this month. Each month, it starts in a new location to highlight a different facet of the city, from schools to recreation.

The Rose Garden began with just 400 bushes in 1960, planted by the city. It grew over the years, with hundreds of bushes added regularly, but in the early 1990s the city fell into financial distress and the garden was neglected.

Volunteers organized to save the garden, and have since planted more than 3,000 additional rose bushes. Two years ago, the garden was named the third best public rose garden in the country.

The volunteers also maintain the garden and recently raised enough funds to build a new entrance, a watering system and a fountain.

Categories: Business

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