Budget talks surface concerns of decaying structures

A vacant and dilapidated home on Vick Street in Albany.

As Albany commissioners work on next year's budget, one of their concerns is making sure funding to the City Attorney's Office will stretch far enough to address a few of their biggest issues.

Rental properties make up 52 percent of Albany TMs housing stock and for the most part officials say landlords adhere to the agreements but, there are many others who keep code enforcement agents busy year round.

Mike Tilson, Director of the Albany Code Enforcement, says there's a myriad of complaints coming in. So much that rental complaints take up a majority of his employees' workload. Officials say these cases, coupled with the battle against dilapidated structures, have become a money pit for the city.

According to the 2010 census we had 3,655 vacant housing units in Albany. Let TMs say a third of that, one thousand, is vacant rental or unoccupied housing. I would guess that probably about half of that is dilapidated, said Mike Tilson, Code Enforcement Director.

When code enforcement can't get the owners to cooperate, the city attorney gets involved. Cases can be drawn out for months or even years.

As city commissioners consider cutting their budget, they're concerned that funding may not stretch far enough to complete the task at hand.

It TMs very time consuming and I think the commission wanted to make sure that I was putting in a sufficient amount of time cause that a high priority item, said Nathan Davis, Albany City Attorney.

Since 2006, the city has torn down nearly 350 dilapidated structures, ridding neighborhoods of eyesores often used for drug activity and criminal hideouts.

This is something that no matter where the property is, it benefits the entire community whether they live in north south east or west. When one of these structures hit the ground the public is better off in the entire community, said Nathan Davis.

The city will begin deconstructing several homes near the McIntosh community. The homes on Residence Avenue have been left vacant and dilapidated for years.

Under a court order, the city will perform demolition on the blue housing structures. However, since the Albany Housing Authority has agreed to take over that land, the city will be reimbursed for every dime they spend on deconstruction.

Albany Code Enforcement officials advises anyone with concerns about dilapidated structures in their neighborhood or those who have rental complaints to call 311 to have their issues addressed.

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