We are excited to announce that the next priority area the i-team will focus on is Housing Stability! After a six week public engagement process and input from our Common Councilors, the Mayor has decided that housing stability is the best challenge for the team to take on.
We started the process of determining our next priority area in mid-January by asking for input from all of you on the ideas and challenges you wanted to see us work on. Over 300 ideas were submitted, that we distilled down into the top six categories: Alternative Transportation, Housing Stability, Neighborhood Beautification, Neighborhood Business Districts, Sidewalk Maintenance & Snow Removal, and Sustainability & Renewable Energy. We then asked you to vote on these categories online, at your local libraries and community centers, and at public events.
Almost 900 of you cast a vote on which challenge we should tackle. Housing stability came in second overall in the public poll with 244 votes, trailing sidewalks (282 votes) and beating alternative transportation (226 votes). We conducted a data analysis of the top three issues, and looked at trends by neighborhood, education, and income level. Then we asked the Common Council for their feedback and comments. Finally, the Mayor chose housing stability as the priority that will position our team to make the greatest impact. The data from the poll can be found on DataCuse!
For the past year we have been working with our Division of Code Enforcement to help improve safe and healthy housing in Syracuse. The housing stability priority area will allow us to continue to build off of this work with code enforcement, while working to develop other programs and initiatives to reduce the number of times that families involuntarily relocate to new homes. This work may address challenges related to utilities, financial stability, eviction, lead, tax foreclosure, and homeownership.
As we’ve noted before, housing stability is a major challenge for Syracuse. Approximately 25% of our residents move at least once within a 12 month period, with that number as high as 35% in some neighborhoods. That's higher than Rochester, Albany, and Buffalo, and more than twice the national average of 11.2%. An average of 11,000 residents are evicted each year and between 15 - 44 housing units are declared unfit to live in each month. Housing instability and transiency have enduring effects on families’ ability to obtain basic necessities (e.g., food, clothing, and medicine), can have adverse health effects on residents, and can lead to frequent school moves, high rates of absenteeism, and low test scores among children. It also disrupts the fabric of our neighborhoods and erodes a sense of community for our residents.
We look forward to diving deeper into this challenge and to continuing working with our residents and community partners to develop initiatives to move the needle toward positive change for our city!