Program to Turn Abandoned Buildings into Homes Moving Forward

By Joshua Philipp, The Epoch Times
February 11, 2010 Updated: February 11, 2010

NEW YORK—The Sustainable Neighborhoods initiative is moving its way through the system and officials from the governor’s office and state agencies are scheduled to begin tours of potential sites, New York Governor David Paterson’s office announced Wednesday.

The Sustainable Neighborhoods program was announced by Paterson during his 2010 State of the State address last month. If successful, the initiative will create affordable homes by fixing up vacant and abandoned buildings and making them available to first-time homebuyers.

The program aims to “serve as a national model for urban revitalization, and a critical part of our economic recovery plan, making investments in both job creation and affordable housing development,” Paterson said in a statement.

The city of Buffalo has more than 23,000 vacant housing units and has been selected as the starting point of the Sustainable Neighborhoods project. If it succeeds, Paterson plans to extend the program across the state.

"By working closely with officials and stakeholders in Buffalo, we have swiftly identified potential neighborhoods where we can target our resources and make the improvements that will help revitalize Western New York,” Paterson said.

State agencies were assigned to find any possible challenges the program may face in making the rundown buildings into livable spaces, and to map out the best path to move the project into action. Currently, much of the work has been between state agencies and community development groups to establish clear goals for the program.

According to Paterson, officials from his office and state agencies moved quickly in laying the groundwork for the initiative and may have it ready for the coming construction season.

The program has multi-faceted goals. In addition to creating construction jobs, it will also “address the vacant building crisis that is hurting economic development and revitalization efforts in our upstate cities,” while working to “strategically align scarce government resources,” said Acting Commissioner of the Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR) Brian Lawlor in a statement.