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Senator pushes for loan to improve city landscape

SCHENECTADY--Many municipalities in the Capital Region have been bulldozing bad homes in an attempt to combat blight problems but now Schenectady wants to step it up.  The city is looking for a $3 million dollar loan from HUD to take down 80 homes and buildings it says are dangerous and dragging down home values.  Schenectady Mayor, Gary McCarthy says the city filed the loan application in July but has yet to hear back so today, he enlisted the help of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer.

"When you have one building like that, it's a cancer...the neighborhood can't grow and strengthen and prosper," Senator Schumer said at a press conference that was held on Tuesday right in front of a burnt-out, dilapidated eyesore along Broadway in Schenectady.  He pledged to help get Schenectady's HUD application to the top of the pile for consideration, "they (HUD) haven't said yes, they haven't said no, my job is to get them to say yes and to say yes soon," he said.

Schenectady has more housing than it does people to fill it and it causes not just an ugly situation for homeowners who live around the blight but a dangerous one too.  "We'll find individuals in there using drugs or doing some other illegal activity or just looking for shelter, " says Brian KilCullen, Schenectady's Police Chief.

On Monday, the Fire Department was called to an abandoned home along Albany Street when a fire broke out inside, "there were previous police and fire calls to that building, the owner had been cited by code enforcement, failed to show up for a court data apparently," Michael DellaRocco, the Schenectady Fire Chief told CBS6.  It's a cycle that's been repeated hundreds of times at dozens of different abandoned homes and buildings across the city for years he says, "if this federal money comes through and some of these buildings are taken down, it definitely will improve the safety of the citizens of the city of Schenectady."  KilCullen agrees, "these properties they do drain our resources," he says.

The City of Albany got a similar federal loan last year to help tear down properties and board up those that can be saved.  The codes department says it continues to use that cash to fight blight in targeted areas.  

Senator Schumer says any local municipality with a plan, should have a shot at federal assistance to help execute it, "each neighborhood is different, each neighborhood comes up with a different program but if other neighborhoods in Schenectady, Troy, Albany or Watervaliet or Cohoes or anywhere applied, I would go to bat for them as well," he says.

Schenectady is hoping to hear back from HUD by early next year.  If the cash comes through, demo on about 80 homes will start in the spring.