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Schumer Pledges To Help Schenectady Battle Blight

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WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
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U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer visited Schenectady tuesday to give the city a helping hand and make some much-needed housing improvements.

The backdrop to Schumer's appearance along the electric city's Broadway in the Bellvue section: a blighted building damaged by fire four years ago. Its absentee landlord has left the property fallow for years.

Schumer promised Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and a gathering of citizens that he will personally appeal to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan to fast-track approval of a $3 million demolition loan application that would allow the city to either raze or upgrade 130 buildings.

About 80 percent of the buildings are considered a blight to the community and are reducing property values for families in the neighborhood.

Mayor McCarthy says the city has taken a pro-active stance against urban blight. Schumer pointed out that vacant and abandoned buildings attract vagrants, gangs, drug dealers and arsonists, and are dangers to police and firemen, as well as neighborhood residents.

Schumer is confident his letter to HUD will get the federal funds flowing. The new initiative is through Schenectady's Home Ownership Made Easy, or HOME, program, specifically tailored to encourage home ownership and eliminate blight.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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