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Syracuse council approves of using federal funds for Walsh’s new housing program

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse common councilors have taken the first step in an ambitious plan to rebuild Syracuse’s housing stock with brand new one and two-family homes on empty lots in the city.

Lawmakers will let the Walsh Administration use all of the federal housing money allocated to the city, for the Syracuse infill housing program. Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens said the city wants to build 200 new houses for low-income buyers and renters.

“This application will provide money for us to be able to do the construction,” Owens said. “About $275,000 per single family unit. We’ll probably sell them between $75,000 and $90,000, depending where they are.”

Lawmakers voted unanimously to use funding that’s been geared to community housing groups in the past and wasn’t necessarily used for improving the housing stock. Councilor Khalid Bey said it’s about time.

“You know, when you look at our housing stock, I mean come on, it’s had no investment,” Bey said. “It’s very bold of the administration.”

The project will cost an estimated $13 million. Owens said the next step is figuring out where to build the houses.

“There may be the missing tooth blocks, where it’s one house,” Owens said. “There may be houses where there are a string of dilapidated properties or lots. We may look at those.”

And she said the quest for more funding isn’t over.

"I have to look at non-traditional funding,” Owens said. “I have to look at non-traditional construction. It’s ambitious, but we’re going to put everything we have behind us.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.