The grassroots movement in Oswego to redevelop the city's neighborhoods with microloans for home improvement projects has now spread to Fulton.
Linda Egan started the Fulton Block Builders organization after hearing about the success of the Oswego Renaissance Association. She's found a similar fervor for that kind of change in Fulton. In just two years, Block Builders has raised more than $300,000, helping about 350 homeowners pay for their exterior house work.
Peter Holmes is one of them. The house he bought at 302 Phillips Street was once abandoned, and considered an eyesore to the surrounding community. Now it has new life thanks to the work Holmes has put into it, including new windows, siding and a porch with stone pillars.
Holmes says the funding he got from the organization actually broadened the work he was planning to do.
"The grant made the stonework possible," Holmes said. "Although the stonework wasn’t actually in the grant, we had the funds because of the grant, because it adjusted our budget that we already had in place for the renovation that we were already doing."
Most of the grants are going toward smaller renovations such as a new front door, mailbox or coat of paint. The average award is $1,000-$2,000. Interested homeowners are required to get at least half of their neighbors together to submit a joint application for the grants, requiring group communication and collaboration.
Egan says the repairs are enhancing Fulton's aesthetic value, and expects that it will eventually improve the area's market value. But what's more beneficial, she says, is what it's doing for the homeowners themselves.
"Everyone’s got to get together as a block, they have to talk, they have to get together in each other’s living rooms and really fixing the exterior of your house is just the tip of what we’re doing," Egan said. "What we’re doing is creating community."