Schenectady County

Community Land Trust helps Schenectady homeowner fix code violations

A homeowner who runs her own one-woman business got a bit of help from City Court when she faced fin

A homeowner who runs her own one-woman business got a bit of help from City Court when she faced fines for code violations.

Harmony Watson was cited for several minor violations — peeling paint, damaged shingles, some garbage piled on the side of her house.

“But she runs her own business. She couldn’t afford it,” said city Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico.

So she ignored the citations.

Falotico said she didn’t seem to realize the seriousness of ignoring a citation until she was called into court. She showed up — but explained that she couldn’t afford to make the needed repairs. Over the course of months, court officials tried to find a solution.

Finally, she was accepted into the Repair Assistance Program run by Community Land Trust.

“She was the happiest person I’ve ever seen in court,” Falotico said. “She kept giving me the ‘eye’ — and I’ve been given the eye by people before in court — and then she came up to me and said, ‘I have to give you a hug.’ ”

He added that he’d never before been hugged by a defendant he was prosecuting.

“It’s a happy story,” he said. “She’s going to come back one more time, to show us pictures and how it all worked out.”

But he’s already satisfied.

Not only will the program fix her code violations, but inspectors for the program also found issues in her house.

“Things we weren’t even aware of. So she’s getting some windows replaced,” Falotico said. “All through the program. It’s going to fix up her house for her.”

The Repair Assistance Program is fixing 16 houses this year, using a grant obtained by the city. City officials are now applying for more funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other sources, in hopes of expanding the program.

It focuses on making repairs for homeowners who cannot otherwise afford to maintain their homes.

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