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Syracuse to receive $965,000 to help with neighborhood improvement

Ellen Abbott

The city of Syracuse is in line for almost a million dollars to help with code enforcement in blighted neighborhoods. New York Attorney General Letitia James brought the news of the $965,000 grant that’s part of the state's RISE program. Communities decide how they want to spend the funds.

"Syracuse will use the money to establish a community ambassador program that pays and trains residents to serve in a leadership capacity in their neighborhood for code enforcement and housing related issues. The city will also pioneer a student legal partnership with Syracuse University to increase the capacity of code enforcement to more efficiently solve cases."

City officials say this won’t solve all the issues facing the embattled codes department, criticized in a recent public meeting. But Mayor Ben Walsh says it’s a start.

"It’s more than we have now, so between building capacity both in code enforcement and the Bureau of Administrative Adjudication, that will certainly help," Walsh said.

Syracuse Common Council President Helen Hudson said a byproduct of this grant is better communication between residents and City Hall. She said right now many renters don’t report code violations because they are afraid they’ll be evicted, which is against the law.

"People do have rights, and we have to get them to understand what their rights are," Hudson said.

Syracuse was one of ten cities receiving the grants, using funds from settlements between New York state and banks following the foreclosure crisis of the Great Recession.