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‘A dream come true’: 2 new, affordable homes built in Syracuse, more to come

Tom Magnarelli
WRVO Public Media
Mayor Ben Walsh cuts a ribbon with the new homeowners.

Two new, affordable homes have been built in Syracuse, on what were vacant lots. They’re the first homes completed as part of Mayor Ben Walsh’s goal of 50 new single-family, affordable homes to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.

Sheona Williams, mother of two kids, is one of the new homeowners on the city’s north side. She was living in Syracuse public housing and took home-buying classes through Home HeadQuarters. She started saving and months later, was given this opportunity.

Credit Tom Magnarelli / WRVO Public Media
WRVO Public Media
Two new homes on Shuart Ave. in Syracuse.

“It’s like a dream come true,” Williams said.

The homes were built by Home HeadQuarters, which is building seven more new homes on the city’s south side. CEO Kerry Quaglia said he hopes 17 new homes will be built by the end of the year.

“So by December, they’ll be up, they’ll be sold,” Quaglia said. “We initially thought it might take some time to sell them. But we’ve had buyers even before the houses are built. There’s something about new construction; it’s the product that people want today.”

He thinks of this as a pilot program.

“Particularly, when you’re thinking about maybe taking people out of public housing, obviously, we need to get to a point as a community where we’re building hundreds or thousands of new homes,” Quaglia said. “We’re not there yet. What we’re seeing is which models work, and hoping to replicate that success.”

Each home cost $280,000 to build. A spike in lumber prices added $30,000 to the initial costs. The homeowners, though, bought the houses for $155,000, to make it affordable. The gap is filled by federal and state subsidies, which come through the city. The homes feature hardwood floors, ceramic tile, high-efficiency furnaces and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.