Schenectady, N.Y. — Two housing organizations in Schenectady are coming together to create Better Community Neighborhoods, Inc. (BCNI). The goal of the merger is to create a powerful tool to further boost neighborhood building programs and services in Schenectady. The merger of Better Neighborhoods Inc., and Community Land Trust of Schenectady has been officially approved by the NYS Attorney General and NYS Homes and Community Renewal. The merger is now complete with a new board, new board president, and a mandate to encourage positive development.
Charles Kilbourne, BCNI’s new President of the Board of Directors, said, “This is all about investing in Schenectady’s neighborhoods and the people who live there. The goal is a strong, healthy organization to revitalize our neighborhoods the way Metroplex has rebuilt downtown.”
Both the Wright Family and Little Family Foundations strongly supported the merger and helped to fund the cost of combing the two organizations. The foundations have committed to supporting BCNI for at least three years.
The new Chief Executive Officer of BCNI is Jennica Huff. Ms. Huff is well known in the housing sector for having put together financing and helped to build over 550 housing units, retail spaces and community service facilities worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Jennica Huff said, “It is truly an honor to be chosen by such an experienced group of people to lead an effort that has never been done before in the State’s history, merge two Neighborhood Preservation Corporations, and grow the capacity of BCNI to undertake comprehensive neighborhood revitalization efforts in partnership with the City of Schenectady and others.”
The new merged organization will provide assistance to first time homeowners through financial literacy programs and homebuyer education to create more home ownership opportunities. The organization will also seek opportunities to develop and co-develop new affordable housing developments from renovating single- and two-family homes to building and managing major housing initiatives. The new group is already actively involved in the $19 million Renaissance Square development on Eastern Avenue.
Mr. Kilbourne helped to assemble a new board of directors including major banks, budget/housing experts and community leaders. “This board is ready to go to work to build on the $95 million in new housing developments already underway in City neighborhoods and the positive momentum created by new parks, libraries and the new Boys and Girls Club,” Mr. Kilbourne said.
Both the Little and Wright Family Foundations played a key role in the successful effort to raise $13 million for the new Boys and Girls Club that is now open and provided significant contributions for the building of the new Schenectady library branch on Crane Street in Mont Pleasant.
Mayor Gary McCarthy said, “New housing and homeownership opportunities are the core of our neighborhood revitalization initiatives here in Schenectady and we look forward to begin working with BCNI as a cornerstone partnership to continue rebuilding our community stronger than ever before.”
County Legislator Richard Ruzzo, Chairman of the Capital Region Land Bank said, “The Land Bank looks forward to working with the newly merged team in our continued efforts to remove blight, revitalize our neighborhoods and increase value for our property owners.”
Ray Gillen, Metroplex Chair said, “The new organization backed by a top-notch board and skilled and proven Chief Executive Officer will provide a potent force to make positive change happen in Schenectady neighborhoods.”
Chad Kilbourne, 202.297.4691