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City of Syracuse establishes housing trust fund aimed at addressing crisis

A white house has a for sale sign in front of it.
Katie Zilcosky
A house is for sale in the city of Syracuse. March 22, 2023.

Syracuse Common Councilors Monday approved the creation of a new entity that aims to address the housing crisis.  The Syracuse Housing Trust Fund Corporation would fill gaps not being met through other programs or funding sources.

State and local government are scrambling to find solutions to the housing shortage and affordability crisis. Councilor Pat Hogan says the trust is an effort to address current and future needs.

“It is apparent by all accounts the city will need to aggressively address this issue, especially when we look forward to the construction workers who will build Micron in the northern suburbs, but also the people who will work there," Hogan said.

He says an estimated 5,000 in Syracuse are considered housing vulnerable, and the crisis precedes Micron's announcement in fall of 2022. Michelle Sczpanski is the city’s Deputy Commissioner of Neighborhood Development.

“We don’t have time to keep waiting," Sczpanski said. "We wanted to make sure that we were really being intentional around making sure that we had as much opportunity as possible to continue to build the seed funding that we need and make sure that we're not wasting time come April when the strategy is presented to the council.”

Sczpanski says she already knows local landlords could use some assistance.

“There's very few programs that we have that are well designed to meet some of those needs," Sczpanski said. "There are needs particularly around lead remediation. That's one area where there's a lot of funding gaps that aren't conducive to solving the problem as efficiently as we could otherwise.”

The state has committed $5 million in seed money to the housing trust fund. Councilor Hogan says the new entity will serve as a vehicle for additional streams of funding from the city, state, grants, or other sources.

"I think this shows in a desire by us to have something separate that would we can actually help projects get over that that goal line."

Hogan says common councilors and the Walsh Administration will now get busy making appointments to trust fund’s the board of directors.

In a statement, Mayor Ben Walsh commends the council and community partners for working together to realize the goal of having a dedicated housing trust fund.

"Like communities all over America, Syracuse faces fast-growing demand for quality housing. Meeting the moment will require cooperation between all levels of government and with our non-profit and private sector housing partners," Walsh said. "Innovation is also essential to develop new solutions to housing challenges that have developed over decades. The Syracuse Housing Trust Fund authorized today by the Common Council will give us more tools to construct, renovate, repair and rehabilitate housing in the city. Inspired by the comprehensive Syracuse Housing Study completed earlier this year, the goal of the fund is to make it possible for more people to find good housing they can afford in Syracuse."

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at