A major housing conference is coming to Schenectady next week as urban leaders share ideas for community development.
HUD will use Schenectady as a case study for urban success, detailing the many efforts of the HOMES program as well as non-profits’ efforts to combat homelessness.
Panelists will present on many other topics as well, ranging from goals for housing finance reform to strategies for eliminating homelessness. The event is called Strengthening Cities, Communities & Homes.
“There’s hopefully something there for everyone,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy, adding that he’s looking forward to hearing about other cities.
“Schenectady is not unique. Things that we’re doing can benefit them. Things they’re doing can benefit us,” he said.
But mainly, he’s hoping to persuade homebuyers to pick a house in a city.
“We need to continue that dialogue to show there is value in these urban centers,” the mayor said, citing the convenience and walkability of cities.
HUD field officer Jaime Forero is also looking forward to the case study on Schenectady.
When he took his job two years ago, he said, he looked for a community in which he could get some “quick wins.”
He found Schenectady already in action.
“The mayor’s already doing it in Schenectady,” he said, describing the coalition of bankers, nonprofits, Realtors and other community groups that work together in the HOMES program.
The group runs open houses every month, kicking off each with an event highlighting a different aspect of the city.
The mayor’s long-term goal is to sell the vacant and foreclosed buildings in Schenectady, a process that has taken much longer than he expected. But the city’s backlog of foreclosed houses are now selling, as well as the many private homes that are marketed through the monthly open houses.
Forero is now setting his sights on Utica, “trying to replicate” the successes of Schenectady.
He’s also working on housing finance reform, along with the top leaders in HUD. It’s one of their biggest priorities, he said, and Forero will moderate a panel on the topic.
“I think people are really looking forward to hearing that one,” he said. “How do you get a mortgage with credit as tight as it is these days?”
Bankers and Realtors will attend the panel, he predicted, but he said many others will wish they had. The issue has wide-ranging impacts.
“It will probably have an impact on more people than even know they should be interested,” he said.