Mayor Ben Walsh's plan to build 125 new homes in Syracuse could get a boost of ARPA money. Photo shot Monday, April 5, 2021. (Rick Moriarty | email@example.com)Rick Moriarty | firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: The Common Council unanimously passed a proposal to use $11 million of federal stimulus money to fund the construction of houses in Syracuse.
Syracuse, N.Y. -- Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh’s plan to build 125 new homes in the city could get an $11 million boost today after a two-year delay caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Syracuse lawmakers will vote on whether to set aside $11 million in American Rescue Plan funding -- federal stimulus money -- to build and rehabilitate homes across the city. The money will be used to build at least 30 new homes, according to Neighborhood and Business Development Commissioner Michael Collins.
The $11 million would be the biggest monetary commitment to the project since it was announced.
“We’re now able to reinvest in these neighborhoods that deserve it,” Collins said. “It’s an opportunity we wouldn’t have without ARPA.”
The initiative was first proposed by Walsh in January 2020 at the State of the City address. There, Walsh proposed the construction of 50 single-family, owner-occupied homes and 75 two-family homes. Construction was delayed during the early portion of the pandemic as the state limited 2020 funding it could put toward the housing initiative.
After the homes are built, they’ll be sold for about $150,000, less than half of what they cost to build. Rising construction costs mean each house could cost up to more than $400,000.
Walsh proposed the plan to stabilize neighborhoods, motivate investment and because just 38 percent of Syracuse residents are homeowners, half the rate of Onondaga County’s suburban areas.
The first two houses to be built as part of the initiative were finished last summer. Seven houses have been fully built and another nine are currently under construction.
New houses will largely be built on the Southwest and West sides of the city because there are more empty lots and better terrain to build on, while properties on the North Side are more likely to be targeted for rehabilitation.
Some of the newly built houses will go on land once owned by the Syracuse Land Bank where once-dilapidated houses were demolished.
Initially, the city targeted Woodland, Baker and Garfield avenues for about eight houses.
Construction could soon begin on houses on Otisco and Ontario streets, in the Near West Side, while Seymour and Shonnard streets are likely to be targets for new housing in the future.
“A lot of these blocks floated to the top because there was a decent amount of vacant land,” said deputy NBD commissioner Michelle Sczpanski.
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