|January 8, 1999|
Union College community revitalization program off to an impressive start
Schenectady, N.Y. (Jan. 8, 1999) – Less than two months after Union College announced the Union-Schenectady (US) Initiative, a broad-based community-revitalization program, College employees have come forward to take advantage of the program's home-ownership incentives.
James Dunn, assistant manager in Dining Services, Gloria Taylor-Neal, assistant director of the Academic Opportunity Program, and Donald LaVare, Jr., a Campus Operations Department worker, all accessed the College's Community Mortgage Program to purchase homes in the US Initiative target area, defined by Seward Place, Union Street, and Nott Street. Dunn bought a multi-unit home on Park Ave., Taylor-Neal a single-family on Seward Place, and LaVare will soon call a two-family residence on South Ave. home. Others at Union, including Rebecca Fisher, international student program assistant, have expressed a strong interest in buying a home in the area soon.
"This is the best thing that has ever happened to me," Dunn said. "My goal was to buy a house within the next two years; the College made it happen by making the entire process easy and affordable."
Union's Community Mortgage Program, offered to employees, features no down payment, no closing costs, payroll deduction, exterior façade improvement funds, and a fixed interest rate two percent below local banks' no-points first mortgage rate.
"These incentives are very attractive to buyers, particularly first-time homeowners," said Joe Farry, vice president of Prudential Manor Homes Realtors who helps Union employees purchase homes in the US Initiative area. "I'm very impressed by the amount of activity, especially so soon after the announcement of the program in October. It's really taking off."
"I would never have had a chance to purchase a home without this program; it will definitely help a lot of people," LaVare said. "The staff at Union were great. Without them, I wouldn't be moving at all."
"We are very pleased at the initial response," said Union President Roger Hull. "Already we've had three purchases, and more staff are close to making the decision to buy. This is proof positive that what we envisioned – a revitalized neighborhood of committed homeowners – is becoming reality."
For Taylor-Neal, the US Initiative enabled her and her husband to purchase a home immediately, which was a priority. "We adopted a baby girl in September, and we felt it was important to raise her in a home." she said. "The program was very timely indeed."
In addition to the Community Mortgage Program, the US Initiative includes a number of incentives designed to spur the neighborhood's revitalization:
- The College will make available scholarships funds of up to $1 million a year to cover the full cost of tuition for children of qualified homeowners. To be eligible, homeowners (and their children) must reside in the area for five years preceding access to the benefit, continue to live there during the period of matriculation at the College, and maintain their property in accordance with the standards set by the to-be-established Union-Schenectady Neighborhood Association. Union is one of two colleges in the nation to offer the scholarship plan for community revitalization. ·
- The College has acquired 30 properties in the US Initiative area, which, following extensive renovations, will be owned and maintained by the College for use as student housing and faculty residences. The process of acquisition and renovation is expected to take 12 to18 months, with an estimated cost of $3 to $4 million. ·
- The College will create the Office of Community Outreach to serve as a center for the exchange of ideas, suggestions and community-focused activity. Staffed by Union students, staff and volunteers from the community, the Office will feature a homework center and tutoring program for local children. ·
- Union's Security Office will be relocated to an address yet-to-be identified in the US Initiative area.
"Projects like this are all about momentum and activity," added Diane Blake, vice president for finance and administration at Union. "We set out to jump start this area, and our employees are stepping forward. We're looking forward to welcoming others from outside the College to join us in this important effort."