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NY Awards $10M To 18 Cities To Fight Neighborhood Blight

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman

Revitalization funding is on the way to 18 cities and towns across New York.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced the winners of the first round of Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement or "Cities RISE" grant awards. The funding is touted as a two-year investment of $20 million to give “local governments  innovative technology to address and transform” blighted properties.

Among 18 grantees: Saratoga Springs. Mayor Joanne Yepsen: "We have a very small percentage of homes and businesses that literally have been abandoned or are considered 'blight.' However, more than you would expect. We have just over a hundred that have been inventoried and we are looking forward to be able to use the resources that are being provided through this program."

The grantees were picked by two national community development nonprofits, Enterprise Community Partners and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. They will receive a two-year subscription to Building Blocks, a data platform that integrates and analyzes data such as code enforcement records, tax liens, and fire and police data, plus support and advice from a range of specialists.

The city of Albany is also receiving funds. Mayor Kathy Sheehan says it's just “another tool in the toolbox” with respect to the work being done on zombie properties in neighborhoods   "So that'll be administered through our building and codes department and the new person that we hired to be Neighborhood Stabilization Coordinator is going to be leading with respect to the implementation of that technology. We already have a technology tool that we're in the process of and we have implemented, but this allows us to have a platform to share that information more effectively."

Funding For “Cities RISE” was secured through Schneiderman's 2016 settlements with banks that contributed to the 2008 collapse of the U.S. housing market.  Since taking office, Schneiderman’s office says, the AG has obtained settlements that brought more than $95 billion to communities across the country. More than $5.5 billion of that settlement money has come into New York.

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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