Long abandoned, set on fire, then seized by the City of Poughkeepsie for back taxes, a house is being demolished to remove public safety hazards from the city.

Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, Fire Chief Mark Johnson, representatives from Hudson River Housing and community leaders gathered at the intersection of Smith and Thompson Streets, in an area known as "Death Row" to watch the beginning of what they hope is a revitalization of the neighborhood.

The house at 85 Smith Street had been considered one of the top ten public safety hazards in the city because of the opportunity for squatters to use it for criminal activity. The location also presented a risk to firefighters who are all-too-often responding to fires in abandoned houses in the city.

The city seized the property in 2016 and began working with Hudson River Housing (HRH) to develop a plan to improve the property; the result is the building demolition.

Christa Hines, executive director of HRH, a community-based agency that provides rental housing and homeownership programs, has taken the property to construct a two-family home. A portion of the home will be owner-occupied while the other will be a rental apartment.  The city has been working to combat properties with absentee landlords who don't maintain the housing.  This new approach is designed to rectify that.

Hines said HRH plans to seek funding for the 9-12 month project from the NYS HOME program which is administered by the Housing Trust Fund Corporation which funds programs that construct affordable housing throughout NYS.

Todd Bender for Townsquare Media