BY TARYN FITSIK
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Phase two of the South End Revitalization project in Albany is underway, in hopes of providing better housing and opportunities for those that live there.
"In the early '80s, this place was really bad, it was virtually abandoned," says Lester Freeman, who grew up in the south end neighborhood of Albany, and now sits on the city's common council. "It was pretty much like a crackhouse. It was an open end neighborhood where drug sales went on."
Freeman says the revitalization project has transformed the entire area.
"This place is a shell of what it used to be," he says. "To see we're finally going down Morton Avenue is great for the community."
Phase two will consist of 43 units, with either one, two, or three bedrooms. The apartments will be rented to families in need, who make no more than 60 percent of the median income.
Plus, the contractors for the project will be required to hire 30 percent of their workforce right from the south end neighborhood, giving residents a stake in their own community.
"As you change the whole neighborhood, you get people in here that are responsible and want to live here," says Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings. "They become responsible renters, homeowners and workers, and it helps everyone."
"When people in this neighborhood see projects like this happen, it gives them hope," adds Freeman "It gives them opportunity, and the type of drive they need to go out and say 'I can be successful too'."
The project is scheduled to be completed by next summer.