City Accepts $200,000 to Continue ‘Anti-blight’ Effort
At this week’s meeting, the City of Poughkeepsie Common Council unanimously agreed to accept $200,000 to continue funding the city’s “Anti-Blight” campaign. The money enables the city to bolster housing code enforcement, to track and monitor vacant properties, and to locate missing owners who have walked away from their properties.
The money comes from part of the state Attorney General’s $9 million in funding to combat so-called “zombie properties,” vacant or abandoned homes that are not maintained during what can be long foreclosure proceedings.
Mayor Rob Rolison created an Anti-Blight Task Force in 2018, which brings together internal and external stakeholders, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together Dutchess, and Hudson River Housing. Since its inception, the task force has addressed more than 100 vacant properties. The city had slightly more than 600 in 2018; that number is now slightly below 500.
“We appreciate New York Attorney General Letitia James supporting the city’s ongoing efforts,” said Mayor Rolison.
“We are making a concerted, aggressive effort to address blight in the city,” said City Administrator Marc Nelson. “This grant not only continues prior funding from the Attorney General’s Office but increased it. We appreciate the strong vote of confidence in the work we are doing. The impact of anti-blight efforts extend well beyond individual properties, it is felt throughout the entire community.”
The grant funds new software, which is giving the city a much better picture related to these properties, including public safety calls, building inspector reports, Department of Public Works cleanups, tax status, and more. Code enforcement procedures have been beefed up in the process.
Since adding two building code enforcement officers in the 2019 budget, the city has made significant increases in the collection of fines for violations. As a result, the city administration requested and received approval of a mid-year budget amendment providing an additional $100,000 to its Youth Activities & Opportunities Program. The awards assist local non-profit organizations by providing funding to support clubs and leagues as well as various summer and educational programs. The recent budget amendment makes available immediately to eligible organizations that provide positive, creative and healthy programs and activities for children.
Also has a result of the anti-blight initiative, the city has taken ownership of the former YMCA building on Montgomery Street. The building has been vacant since the YMCA closed its doors in 2009. The city has set a Sept. 5 deadline for applicants to submit their ideas for new uses for the site.