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What you need to know for 01/16/2017

$400,000 grant to help Amsterdam neighborhood fix up properties

$400,000 grant to help Amsterdam neighborhood fix up properties

The city of Amsterdam will spring into 2013 with the goal of upgrading more than a dozen properties.

The city of Amsterdam will spring into 2013 with the goal of upgrading more than a dozen properties.

The city won a $400,000 grant from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department’s Community Development Block Grant program targeting part of the city’s Fourth Ward.

Directed through the state’s Office of Community Renewal, the program will be administered locally by the Amsterdam Urban Renewal Agency.

The neighborhood meets program criteria in that many homeowners there are at lower income levels, including senior citizens on fixed incomes, according to AURA director Nick Zabawski.

Another criteria requires at least half the target area’s housing stock be in need of repairs, a situation that exists in many Northeast cities like Amsterdam.

“It’s an older city,” Zabawski said.

Outreach that will follow the grant announcement will outline two avenues by which people can upgrade properties.

Those who live in the home can receive up to $25,000 for upgrades. The grant threshold for landlords owning rental properties is $12,500 and those require a matching contribution.

Zabawski said the funding, to be spent over a two-year period, should be sufficient to make repairs to between 15 and 18 homes.

A similar grant program completed a couple years ago on Division Street helped pay for repairs at 15 homes, which included new siding, roof replacement, kitchen remodeling and new heating systems.

The city is pursuing a variety of goals with the property rehab program, according to an announcement issued by Mayor Ann Thane.

They including the elimination of code violations and unsafe conditions, removing blight and stimulating private investment.

Amsterdam has a large amount of vacant property left over from its industrial heyday, and repairing an existing house costs less than building a new one, Zabawski said.

People can buy a newer home for $120,000 but buy an old one for $30,000 and put $25,000 in repairs into it and save money, he said.

“It makes economic sense,” Zabawski said.

The program might best serve senior citizens on fixed incomes who want to stay in their homes, he said.

“They can’t afford to make any improvements. If you don’t have a program like this, they’re either forced to sell or move or the buildings fall into serious disrepair,” Zabawski said.

Fourth Ward Alderman David Dybas said the neighborhood could use some improvements.

“I look at it in a positive light. There’s a lot of work that could be done in the 4th Ward. It’s showing its age,” he said.

Information will be mailed out to residents in the target area that’s bounded by Reid, Church, James and Hibbard streets.

Interested property owners can learn more by contacting AURA at 843-5190 or amst.ura@gmail.com.

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