Schenectady Council decides foreclosed house can remain a rental property

Monday, January 28, 2013
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— One of the city’s foreclosed rental properties will remain a rental property, despite the goal of getting owner-occupants into all of the houses the city took for tax delinquency last year.

Schenectady City Council members said they felt it was reasonable to let 1108 Albany St. remain a rental property, opening the door to more rentals as the Home Ownership Made Easy in Schenectady program continues.

“We’re going to have to think up creative solutions for each one of these because they’re not houses we can throw up a for-sale sign on and have them sold the next day,” Councilman Carl Erikson said. “In the HOMES program, there is not ‘typical.’ Each one is going to be its own quirky situation.”

On Monday, the City Council voted 4-1 to sell 1108 Albany St. to a contractor. He plans to rent the building to two longtime tenants, one of whom is his sister.

The contractor will put $50,000 into the project and buy the house for $10,000.

The tenants have lived in the house for years, Building Inspector Eric Shilling said, and wanted to remain. But their landlord stopped paying his taxes years ago, so the city foreclosed last summer.

The contractor’s sister has lived in the two-family house for 12 years.

“So they’re obviously very comfortable there,” Shilling said.

Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo spoke strongly in favor of the plan, calling it “another unique” proposal.

“The HOMES program is something I think is wonderfully innovative,” she said. “We’re really in unprecedented territory with the HOMES program.”

But Councilman Vince Riggi complained that the council was given information about the sale only a minute before the council meeting began. He voted against it for that reason.

“This, handed to me just before the council meeting starts, is not good enough,” he said. “It’s nothing against the HOMES program, it’s nothing against Mr. Shilling.”

The council had asked for information a week ago, and usually does not vote on legislation unless documentation is provided the Friday before the vote.

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield also objected to the late paperwork, but said she had read through it and was satisfied.

“Fortunately, we were able to get it,” she said, adding that paperwork should be provided earlier “so that we can make an informed decision, as the taxpayers expect.”

Council President Margaret King also voted for the sale; councilwomen Denise Brucker and Barbara Blanchard were absent.

The sale is technically the second sale of the new contractor rehab program, but the first contractor backed out of his project after revelations of a decade-old criminal conviction for which he had served prison time.

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