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County donating Rotterdam house to Habitat for Humanity

County donating Rotterdam house to Habitat for Humanity

County and Habitat collaborate organization first project in Rotterdam
County donating Rotterdam house to Habitat for Humanity
This house, at 2026 Oaklawn Ave., in Rotterdam, will be donated by the county to Habitat for Humanity.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

ROTTERDAM -- Schenectady County will donate a vacant house and land in Rotterdam to Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County. It is a first-time collaboration between the county and the non-profit housing organization for a project in the town.

Habitat, the local chapter of which has previously been focused almost entirely on projects in the city of Schenectady, will demolish the county-owned house at 2026 Oaklawn Ave. and build a new energy-efficient house on the property. It will be sold to a first-time homebuyer for $85,000.

"This is the first time we've done this kind of collaborative arrangement with the county and the [Capital Region] Land Bank," said Madelyn Thorne, executive director of Habitat for Humanity's local chapter.

Nearly all of the almost 50 projects Habitat has completed over the years have been in the city of Schenectady, though it has also done two houses in Glenville and one in Niskayuna. Last week, it announced a city project to be done with the Capital Region Land Bank.

County Attorney Christopher Gardner recommended the parcel be donated to Habitat. The proposed property transfer cleared a committee vote of the County Legislature on Monday, and the full Legislature will vote on approving the arrangement Tuesday.

"Through this collaboration with Habitat and the Lank Bank, we are able to eliminate an abandoned building, create a single-family home and put the property back on the tax rolls," County Manager Kathleen Rooney wrote in a memo to the county Legislature.

The house has been vacant for nearly a decade, and the county acquired it because of unpaid back taxes. The Capital Region Land Bank will pay for the demolition, and the county, under an agreement with the Land Bank, will give that organization 50 percent of the county taxes collected on the property for the first five years after it is sold.

"The house wasn't salvageable," Thorne said. "It would have been great if we could save the structure, but it has been vacant for far too long."

Supporters of the Habitat project include the Rotterdam Sunrise Rotary Club, Rotterdam Business Association and the town of Rotterdam, she said.

The new house will be a one-story, three-bedroom house with a full basement, front and back porches and a full set of new appliances. It is on a street with municipal water and sewer service.

Thorne said eight families are interested in buying the house, and the first to qualify for a mortgage will receive the property. Once the parcel is transferred to Habitat, demolition and construction are expected to take about nine months.

"The neighbors are excited someone is coming," Thorne said. "No one wants to live next to a shell, derelict property like that. It's a nice street."

Habitat for Humanity works to build houses for qualified first-time and low-income buyers. Thorne said she's hopeful the partnership will serve as a model for future projects, as Habitat looks for more opportunities beyond the city limits.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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