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What you need to know for 01/18/2018

In Schenectady, Habitat parts ways with its director

In Schenectady, Habitat parts ways with its director

Habitat for Humanity’s local executive director lost his job this week.

Habitat for Humanity’s local executive director lost his job this week.

The board of directors of the Schenectady chapter chose to get rid of Jeff Clark on Tuesday.

Clark confirmed that, but said he could not discuss the reason for the decision.

“I am not at liberty to discuss the issues right now,” he said.

Habitat board President Charles Becker sent out a letter Thursday afternoon saying only that Clark was no longer employed, “effective immediately.”

Becker will be running the agency with board member Dan Smith until they find an interim executive director, he said. The agency will then do a formal search for its next executive director.

The next director will “lead us into our next phase of growth, success and community service,” Becker said.

He added that the abrupt change in leadership would not delay the houses under way.

“The board is committed to honoring all current HFHSC projects and will work with the staff and volunteers to make sure this transitional time does not disrupt our day-to-day operations, current relationships and the goals our affiliate has set forth,” he said.

The agency had come under fire publicly for the cost of some projects. City Councilman Carl Erikson criticized Habitat on Monday for spending nearly $400,000 to build two houses on Carrie Street.

Usually, Habitat spends roughly $80,000 on a house, using volunteer labor. But this project involves YouthBuild, in which young adults are paid a stipend to learn the construction trade while building a house under the supervision and training of paid carpenters, electricians and other skilled workers.

Erikson said the money, which was to be provided to Habitat through the federal Community Development Block Grant, should be given to the land bank instead.

On Thursday, he said he is still opposed to funding the Habitat project.

“I feel that the land bank could do a more efficient job of renovating houses in the city than Habitat can,” he said, citing the fact that the money paid by the new owners of a Habitat house does not go to the local chapter.

Habitat underwrites 0 percent mortgages and the payments go to corporate headquarters.

“The key difference is the land bank would sell the property and reinvest it in the city,” Erikson said. “Whereas Habitat does not reinvest it” in Schenectady.

While Becker and Clark would not discuss why Clark was dismissed, Becker praised Clark in his letter.

He noted that during Clark’s eight years in Schenectady, Habitat built 26 houses, opened a Re-Store on Foster Avenue and later moved to a much larger facility at 115 N. Broadway.

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