Community Change Council

ONE Schenectady: Community Driven Systems Change

ONE Schenectady is a collaborative movement, a collective effort that emerged organically from the work of a broad coalition of Schenectady County leaders and organizations during the early months of the COVID pandemic.  Beyond that, it has become a way of thinking and acting as leaders, a culture, a sense of who we are as a community while we each have our own roles.

ONE Schenectady is about creating systemic, transformative change while we also meet urgent community needs head-on. It is about putting equity front and center based on race, class, and other factors. It is about being guided by those with lived experience.

The Community Change Council

The Community Change Council (CCC) emerged from a city-wide initiative focused on systems change.

This council is the culmination of an extensive process involving a broad spectrum of Schenectady residents, local leaders, and the ONE Schenectady Strategy Working Group. The process was guided by Community Science, a national firm dedicated to fostering healthy, equitable, and just communities. As a result, a community-driven strategy for systems change was crafted and is now being implemented.

The Council is composed of engaged Schenectady residents and community leaders who are united in their efforts to enact changes desired by the community. Currently, the Council is transitioning from the planning phase to tangible actions, marked by the initiation of a 90-day campaign to put their plans into motion.

Collective Agenda-90 Days of Action

The Community Change Action Council has united to tackle the challenge of ensuring Quality Affordable Housing in Schenectady. The focus is on addressing the issues surrounding property code violations and their impact on residents.

The Problem: Despite code violations being public record, they are not easily accessible to residents. These violations often remain unaddressed, leading to residents being displaced from their homes due to factors like affordability or building violations. The process of quickly rehousing those affected is also a major challenge.

The Intervention/Action: To address these concerns, the Community Change Council will undertake a series of actions aimed at enhancing the transparency of property code violations and increasing the accountability of landlords and code enforcement authorities. This initiative is intended to empower residents with the necessary information and resources to make informed decisions about their housing. The Council's approach includes:

    • Engaging and educating residents: The Council plans to implement programs to raise awareness among residents about their rights as tenants and how to access information on code violations.
    • Engaging Landlords and Tenant associations: The Council plans to engage landlords, tenant associations, and other housing stakeholders to find allies and champions for the effort.
    • Improving access to code violation information: Strategies will be developed and introduced to the City Council to make information about code violations more accessible and user-friendly for residents.
    • Enhancing accountability mechanisms: Efforts will be made to strengthen the enforcement of housing codes and hold landlords accountable for violations.
    • Enhanced Tracking System for Absentee Landlords: Implementing a system to monitor absentee landlords, with detailed information on each property, including ownership details, current status, and progress towards repairs.
    • Collaboration with City Council for Financial Support Measures: The CCC aims to work with the City Council to:
      • Allocate a percentage of code violation fees to a rental assistance fund for residents threatened with eviction or needing rehousing.
      • Introduce a licensing requirement for absentee landlords who own more than two properties, to ensure compliance with housing standards.
      • Implement a registration fee for absentee landlords, with proceeds going into the rental assistance fund.

    Through these combined efforts, the CCC aims to significantly improve housing conditions in Schenectady, ensuring residents have access to quality, affordable housing, and the support they need to maintain it.

    The following people are currently serving on the Community Change Council:

Jessica Nivens

Mary Anne Ruscitto

Latyonia Lee

Heather Hutchinson

M, Ebony Belmar

Robert Carreau

Dennis Graham-Parker

Elise Martin

Eric Johnson

Walter Simpkins

Delanne Stageman

Elizabeth Walsh

Kristine Moore

Judy Shopmyer

Nicholas Clay

Johan Matthews

Arthur Butler

Christine Parsons

William Rivas

Shawntas Rivas

Shavonne Sanders

Jamaica Miles

Domonique Thomas

Nyemiah Greggs

Sharron Deveaux