Syracuse combats lack of affordable housing by educating landlords

Aug 5, 2014

The city of Syracuse is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis, but one organization is hoping it can ease things by educating landlords.

Part of the problem is timing. For the last year, the Syracuse Land Bank has been buying properties seized by the city for back taxes, according to Sharon Sherman of the Greater Syracuse Tenants Network.

"Hundreds of properties have been foreclosed on and are making their way into the land bank, but very few have been sold yet, so that’s taken quite a few out,” Sherman said.

Sherman says the city has also cracked down on water shutoffs and code enforcement, and the development of Harrison and Townsend Towers has eliminated low-income housing.

Things should ease once the land bank finds it’s footing, and Home Headquarters finishes construction of new properties. But in the meantime, Sherman hopes to help by holding a landlords workshop to give them the tools they need to be successful.
   
"We want to help them learn how to screen tenants, so they don’t have to keep renting year after year, evicting people," Sherman said. "We want to show them how to work with police, so if there’s a problem house on that property in Eastwood, they’ll learn how to work with police and neighbors.”

Sherman says she thinks the workshop will especially help the small landlord, who might be renting an apartment for $750 a month. She says there is a dearth of apartments in that price range right now in the city.

“The majority of the housing in the city of Syracuse was built before 1938," Sherman said. "It’s mostly houses. We’re not a city of big apartment buildings in general, so these small houses are owned by smaller property owners, and without them, there’s no place for people to use.”