U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer visited Schenectady tuesday to give the city a helping hand and make some much-needed housing improvements.
The backdrop to Schumer's appearance along the electric city's Broadway in the Bellvue section: a blighted building damaged by fire four years ago. Its absentee landlord has left the property fallow for years.
Schumer promised Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and a gathering of citizens that he will personally appeal to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to fast-track approval of a $3 million demolition loan application that would allow the city to either raze or upgrade 130 buildings.
About 80 percent of the buildings are considered a blight to the community and are reducing property values for families in the neighborhood.
Mayor McCarthy says the city has taken a pro-active stance against urban blight. Schumer pointed out that vacant and abandoned buildings attract vagrants, gangs, drug dealers and arsonists, and are dangers to police and firemen, as well as neighborhood residents.
Schumer is confident his letter to HUD will get the federal funds flowing. The new initiative is through Schenectady's Home Ownership Made Easy, or HOME, program, specifically tailored to encourage home ownership and eliminate blight.