Sunday, February 24, 2013

No More Vacant Homes - A Great Idea

This morning in the Sunday Post-Standard I read with great interest Stephen Kimatian's article in the Opinion section of the paper.  I had had this thought before, but he put it very succinctly and illustrated it with actual facts and a compelling story.

His thesis in "How one effort can help vacant homes, unemployment at the same time" is simple.  Syracuse has an overabundance of vacant houses, just sitting there waiting for help that won't come from the owners, previous or otherwise.  It also has a strong community which dislikes vacancy and works hard.  Combine the two, and you have dozens of "Marios," Kimatian's subject.

Mario bought a vacant house, fixed it up and rented it out.  That went so well he did it again - and again.  To date he has rehabilitated on his own ten houses.  These are now ten houses that not only produce rent for him, but also are on the tax rolls.  Not only that, they have filled a need for families who will round out our workforce in our rapidly developing city.

Mario is an entrepreneur.  He is unlike the entrepreneur who "rented" out the vacant house next to my in-laws.  This person took rent for months until the people found out he had no legal right to rent the house.  The tenants were out money and had to leave the house rapidly.  Not good for them, their kids, or the neighborhood.  So why not allow someone to develop the house?

Kimatian cites figures.  He suggests the houses would cost somewhere around $20,000 and then with money for renovations he projects still a good income for the rent.  Mario now brings in about $60,000 a year - not bad for working on your own, at your own pace, in your own time.  And if he is like investors I know he has learned that doing it right the first time will help to ensure no midnight phone calls from the tenants.

Wouldn't a city filled to capacity with willing and able tenants, houses with lights on inside at night, children going to school and taking advantage of the "Say Yes" program be worth a great deal?  So, Mr. Kimatian - how do we make this happen?