A federal program to buy and renovate foreclosed homes on Westchester County’s worst blocks was supposed to breathe life into dying neighborhoods, but officials are now struggling to sell some of the new housing.
Westchester County received $7.3 million in federal recovery funds to buy 12 foreclosed or abandoned properties in Mount Vernon, Peekskill and Yonkers. In one case the county allocated up to $942,000 in federal and state funds to fix up and market a three-family home in Yonkers surrounded by conditions that would scare most potential homebuyers.
“It’s extremely difficult for us to resell those properties, particularly in Yonkers. There’s just no interest whatsoever,” Norma Drummond, county deputy planning commissioner, told the Board of Legislators’ Government Operations Committee last month. “In some cases it’s the neighborhood. Even though we’ve invested in this one property, the rest of the neighborhood hasn’t improved enough.”
Drummond told legislators the toughest sell is 31 Oak St. in Yonkers, a three-family home in which the county invested up to $862,000 to buy and renovate, plus $80,000 in state funds to make it more affordable to a buyer who then would rent the other two units. Oak Street’s undesirability was underscored April 21 when Mayor Mike Spano came to the intersection of Oak and Elm streets to announce enhanced police patrols in the area after a series of shootings and stabbings.