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Ogdensburg could end Neighborhood Stabilization Program

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OGDENSBURG — The city may eliminate a problematic housing program in 2013, now that a state funding agency gave it permission to move income from the sale of houses elsewhere.

After a state Homes and Community Renewal decision that Neighborhood Stabilization Program income can be used in other city housing initiatives, Ogdensburg has an opportunity to close out its program.

“Previously, NSP program income went back into the NSP — but now that income is insufficient to keep up with NSP goals and objectives, which is to fully rehabilitate houses,” said Andrea L. Smith, interim city planner.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program is a vestige of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designed to renovate derelict homes using grant money, then sell them at reduced cost to low- and moderate-income families.

Money from the sale of program houses went back into the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, requiring it be used again within the program’s parameters. City Council members said it would be difficult to end a program that replenished itself.

Ogdensburg has three houses remaining in the program. One, 505 New York Ave., is slated for demolition this month.

“It is set to be substantially complete by Jan. 15,” Ms. Smith said. “We do have to do asbestos abatement. That is the first thing that has to happen.”

The work will be done by Bronze Contracting of Remsen for a sum not to exceed $39,895.

Two other city-owned Neighborhood Stabilization Program houses, at 2 Grove St. and 113 Adams Ave., are slated to be sold. After a public appeal for more qualified applicants, Ms. Smith said, her department is working with potential buyers for both properties.

“We’re working with two qualified buyers, one for 113 Adams and one for 2 Grove,” she said.

Ms. Smith said all Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds are slated to be spent.

“Until we actually close on our last two remaining properties and complete the demolition at 505 New York Avenue, all of the funds won’t be closed down,” she said. “The goal is to have the demolition and the two sales closed on by Jan. 31.”

Another program house, at 819 Knox St., was sold in October.

The program, administered by housing firm C.W. Augustine of DeKalb Junction, ended up causing big trouble in the city. After thousands of dollars were used to renovate deteriorating houses, it was revealed that a family had lived rent- and tax-free for three years in one house.

Later, problems with incomplete repairs, property selection and the sale of the houses arose. Those issues led to the resignation of one city official and played a role in the firing of another.

Ms. Smith said the program could be closed out in 2013, but in the meantime, C.W. Augustine will continue in its administrative role.

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