JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A program that aims to address zombie houses in Jamestown, by fixing them up and selling them to first-time home buyers, could soon finally come to fruition.
It’s all part of a new effort launched by the Jamestown Department of Development, which will likely officially be funded by city council later in the month.
Lately local lawmakers, and more specifically, those in the city’s finance committee, have been weary about spending their remaining ARPA funding.
In a compromise, the committee will likely approve $500,000 dollars for the municipality’s 19-A program, aimed at purchasing dilapidated properties, fixing them up, and selling them to first-time homeowners. Originally $750,000 was sought to kick the initiative off.
“We’ll take anything in between $750 and $500, we’ll be happy with anything,“ explained Assistant Corporation Counsel Ben Haskins. “We just want to get this off the ground, get the money so we can at least winterize these houses and do some interior work prior to the growing season next year. But I think the real difference is just kind of initial scope.”
Once the programs get up and running, and a few houses are brought up to code and sold, the project would expand from neighborhood to neighborhood. Councilwoman Marie Carrubba feels this is a good step forward.
“We have to do something different,“ stated Councilwoman Carrubba. “Or we’re going to keep doing the same thing over and over again, and ending up with more and more homes (demolished). When I look at that demo list, it’s heartbreaking to see all of these properties that are going off the tax roll.
However some, like Councilman Jeff Russel, are concerned about the project’s sustainability.
“It’s all about selecting properties to pair with the ones you’re going to have to sink some money in, and be warned to break even or maybe even a slight loss point,“ explained Haskins. “Ones that we can turn a significant profit on, on the back end, and using the funds for that to sustain the program.”
Lawmakers also discussed using the $250,000 dollars not going towards the program to help fund the city’s Senior Housing Home Repair initiative. Alongside another $250,000 dollars that program would be able to cover all eligible applicants.
Council will vote on the program at this month’s Voting Session on November 28.