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Our view: Confident in SURA

Census figures estimate that of 55,945 occupied housing units in the city of Syracuse, 58.2 percent are inhabited by renters.

Which means the majority Syracusans, every day and across the board, are at the mercy of their landlords when it comes to securing and maintaining housing.

On top of that, nearly three-fourths of properties seizable by the city are occupied buildings. Between those two large percentages, there is bound to be significant overlap between seizable buildings, and the renters living inhabiting them.

To a degree, that's something all renters must deal with: the underlying reality that someone else has more control over your living situation than you do. For some, that's a small price to pay for never having to mow the lawn or fix the roof; for many others, renting is less of a choice and more a circumstance.

That second group of renters is the one that concerned us most while researching this week's cover story .

Would the "new" SURA end up dumping renters out of their homes because their landlords couldn't (or didn't) keep up on taxes?

We spoke with two people in the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, and they both made clear to us that while the Syracuse Urban Renewal Agency could seize any property on the list at any time, vacant or not, it wasn't a technique they had any intention of using.

There are some who would say, "we've heard that before," and they'd be right.

But -- cautiously -- we have to admit we are impressed by the way things are being done here.

Addressing Syracuse's vacant, unfit and tax delinquent housing in a "surgical" manner, as Commissioner Paul Driscoll put it, won't solve the problem overnight. Or even in a couple of years, at this rate. But it has the potential to result in thoughtful, well-managed solutions that respect city neighborhoods and their residents, and that's already more than we can say for SURA's past.

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