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November 9, 2013

$15m local housing plan in works

Faced with a growing number of vacant or abandoned homes, plus a need for rental units, the city of Oneonta has embarked with a not-for-profit organization on a plan to improve housing options through revitalization of properties and neighborhoods.

Housing Visions Consultants, in conjunction with the city and other local partners, plans a $15 million housing development project to address needs for high-quality affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization, a project summary said. The blight remediation of vacant or underutilized structures would be through construction or renovation, a project summary said.

The city’s focus and initiative stem from work of the Oneonta Housing Task Force, a panel that identified local housing needs and shaped concerns into goals.

Housing Visions Consultants, the developer and managing agent, is a subsidiary of Housing Visions Unlimited Inc., an organization founded in 1990 that is a government-certified Community Housing Development Organization, Neighborhood Preservation Company and a not-for-profit entity.

Housing Visions would buy properties, hire contractors to build or restore units and then manage the properties, officials said.

The Oneonta proposal includes building senior housing, with about 40 units, on Clinton Street near Silver Creek and building and developing about 20 family housing units, with a focus on the Center City area and possibly some properties on Chestnut Street.

Housing Visions has the potential to have a significant positive impact for the city, Oneonta Code Enforcement Officer Robert Chiappisi said, and the Oneonta Housing Task Force should be applauded for its efforts.

The number of vacant residential properties is in the low 90s, according to Chiappisi, and about 50 vacant homes are of concern because they are at some level of foreclosure. The city had about 40 vacant homes when he joined the city in 2009, he said.

Issues with the vacant and abandoned homes include property maintenance, such as tall grass, illegal dumping, vandalism and security concerns, Chiappisi said. Mortgage companies have increased efforts to work with municipalities to address the property maintenance issues through a company called Compliance Connections, he said.

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