Thank you FiveStar Bank for your generous gift in support of The Housing Council at PathStone Post Purchase program!

FiveStarBankWe would like to thank FiveStar Bank for their generous gift in support of our Post Purchase program! Participants enjoyed learning home maintenance skills in order to avoid costly repairs, how to get the most “bang for their buck” when remodeling, how to safe guard their financial investment from foreclosure and walked away with a gift card to Lowe’s to get started on their own DIY projects. On behalf of the staff here at The Housing Council at PathStone and all of our program graduates, thank you FiveStar Bank!

Interested in joining us for our next Post Purchase class? Call 585.546.3700 ext. 3035. 

Apartment, retail buildings on South Ave. set to open next week –

Apartment, retail buildings on South Ave. set to open next week

by: wham

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) – Two new mixed-use buildings are set to open in Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood next week.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, May 3 for the new Wedgepoint Apartments on South Avenue near Byron Street.

The two buildings will house 60 apartments in one, two and three-bedroom units. There will also be 4,900 square feet of retail space on the first floor of each building, which totals 68,000 square feet.

Both buildings already have more than 75 percent occupancy and one of the three commercial spaces is already being rented.

“With Wedgepoint, [PathStone developers] have transformed a vacant lot into the perfect gateway to the Rochester’s South Wedge neighborhood,” said Judith Rose, Senior Relationship Manager with NeighborWorks America.

The building was financed through the City of Rochester, NYS Home, NYS Community Investment Fund, NYS Housing Trust Fund, NeighborWorks America and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (Federal & NYS), and The Community Preservation Corporation’s permanent loan funded through the NYS Common Retirement Fund.

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Proposed bill takes aim at New York landlords who try to force out tenants

Proposed bill takes aim at New York landlords who try to force out tenants

by: Erin Durkin

A proposed state law would make it a crime for landlords to harass tenants to get them out of their apartments, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday.

The proposed bill would make it a misdemeanor for a landlord to engage in a course of conduct intended to drive a tenant from their home.

Landlords could face felony charges for going after tenants in two or more rent regulated apartments.

“Some bad landlords see rent regulated tenants as just a potential gold mine, and more than a few are looking to make a fast buck by harassing tenants out of their homes,” Schneiderman said at an East Harlem news conference.

“It has become clear that our state’s existing criminal laws are simply inadequate to address the reality of tenant harassment.”

Current law says landlords can only be charged with a crime if a tenant is physically injured, and prosecutors can prove the landlord intended to cause the injury.

Not a single landlord has been convicted under the law in the nearly two decades it has been on the books.

 “This is an absurdly high bar,” Schneiderman said.

The new legislation would allow charges against landlords who launch dust-spewing construction projects in hopes of forcing residents out, or cut off heat and hot water.

As the Daily News first reported Tuesday, the attorney general is also publishing a new “know your rights” guide for immigrant tenants after complaints landlords have threatened tenants who are in the country illegally.

Maria, a Ridgewood tenant who wouldn’t give her last name, said she’s battling her landlord after he tried to scare her into moving out.

“He told me if I didn’t leave the apartment, immigration would come and take away all the undocumented people who live in the apartment,” she said in Spanish.

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said the Council is also working on a package of legislation to make tenant harassment harder to prove.

“These initiatives will help ensure that the people who are most in need do not fall prey to unscrupulous landlords,” she said.

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A.G. Schneiderman Announces New Legislation To Criminally Crack Down On Tenant Harassment –

A.G. Schneiderman Announces New Legislation To Criminally Crack Down On Tenant Harassment


New Legislation Would Broaden And Strengthen Existing Tenant Harassment Laws, Make It Easier To Criminally Prosecute Landlords Who Force Rent-Regulated Tenants To Vacate

Schneiderman: With Affordable Housing As Scarce As Ever, It’s Time For Lawmakers To Give Prosecutors New Tools To Stop The Menacing – And Often Dangerous – Measures These Landlords Use To Force Tenants Out Of Their Homes

NEW YORK—Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman unveiled new legislation today aimed at holding the city’s most unscrupulous landlords criminally accountable for tenant harassment. Current state law demands prosecutors reach an inexplicably high bar in order to criminally charge landlords with harassment of rent-regulated tenants—which is why in the past twenty years, not a single landlord has ever been convicted of the crime of Harassment of a Rent Regulated Tenant. The AG’s legislation would change that, by setting a more reasonable standard that removes the need to prove physical injury to a tenant, and opens the door to prosecutions arising out of more commonplace and insidious tactics, such as turning off heat and hot water, exposing young children to lead dust, and making rent-stabilized buildings deliberately uninhabitable for current tenants and their families.

The legislation introduced today is just the most recent action taken by the AG to stem a rising tide of tenant harassment complaints across New York City. The AG’s other work includes:

“Our current laws are outdated, ineffective, and totally inadequate to keep tenants safe from unscrupulous landlords seeking to unlawfully evict New York families. With affordable housing as scarce as ever, it’s time for lawmakers to give prosecutors new tools to stop the menacing – and often dangerous – measures these landlords use to force tenants out of their homes,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Protecting vulnerable tenants has been, and will remain, a top priority of my office.”

“Toughening up criminal penalties helps us level the playing field and protect tenants victimized by greedy, negligent landlords who put their own profit ahead of the rights of those paying the rent,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “I applaud Attorney General Schneiderman’s move to make it harder for bad actors to harass tenants, and will join him in advocating for this important penal law change.”

“Stronger tenant harassment legislation will deter potential unconscionable acts and help tenants feel more secure in filing charges against any unscrupulous landlords,” said New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “I commend Attorney General Schneiderman for his work on this very important bill that will extend protections to all tenants. The New York City Council last week introduced a tenant harassment protections package of legislation that will work conjunction with this bill, and we will continue to partner with the Attorney General to protect everyone in our City — especially the most vulnerable.”

Under the existing Harassment of a Rent Regulated Tenant statute, a prosecutor must not only prove that the offending landlord intended to cause the tenant to vacate their home, but also that the tenant sustained physical injury due to the landlord’s actions and that the landlord actually intended to cause (or acted with criminal recklessness in causing) such injury. This existing Penal Law statute creates an inexplicably high bar that – in the nearly two decades since the law was enacted – has never been met. In fact, a recent analysis of NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services data shows that not a single landlord has ever been convicted of the crime of Harassment of a Rent Regulated Tenant.

The Attorney General’s legislation would eliminate the need to prove physical injury to a tenant, and a landlord’s specific intent to cause it, in order to secure a criminal conviction against an offending landlord. Specifically, the legislation:

  • Adds a new class A misdemeanor that would apply to landlords and their agents who, with the intent to cause a rent regulated tenant to vacate their home, engage in a “course of conduct” that is reasonably likely to, and does in fact, interfere with and disturb the comfort, repose, peace and quiet of such tenant in the use of their home;
  • Expands the existing class E felony Penal Law statute to make it unlawful for landlords or their agents to attempt to force tenants in two or more rent-regulated units to move out by engaging in a “systematic ongoing course of conduct” or “repeatedly committing acts over a period of time” that “is or are reasonably likely to interfere with and disturb, and does or do interfere with and disturb, the comfort, repose, peace and quiet” of such tenants in the use of their homes; and
  • Makes it a class E felony for a landlord to commit the new class A misdemeanor offense after he or she has been convicted of that crime within the preceding five years.

These provisions make it easier for prosecutors to curb common tactics used by landlords to force out tenants, including long and disruptive construction projects, deprivation of hot water and heat for extended periods of time. The new class A misdemeanor imposes a maximum penalty of up to one year in jail. The class E felony carries a maximum sentence of up to four years in prison.

Earlier today, Attorney General Schneiderman released new “Know Your Rights” guidance for immigrant tenants facing landlord harassment on the basis of immigration status.

“Today’s announcement is significant in our efforts to protect tenants from harassment by landlords that have either threatened physical harm or caused injury in an attempt to get them to vacate their home. This bill will help provide real protections for innocent tenants who have been subjected to threats and harm by their landlords due to an ineffective Penal Law statute,” said U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat (NY-13).

“Too often, unscrupulous landlords get away with tenant harassment and abuse because of outdated laws. Attorney General Schneiderman’s legislation will ensure that bad landlords can be held accountable for their criminal actions. We must continue to taking every action possible to protect tenants and ensure every New York has access to a safe and decent home,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

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Performing arts center, mixed-use space to be built on Parcel 5 –

Performing arts center, mixed-use space to be built on Parcel 5

by: Carlet Cleare

Rochester, N.Y. (WHAM) – A performing arts center and mixed-used development space will be built on a space of land deemed ‘Parcel 5’ at Midtown in downtown Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren announced Friday.

The Golisano Center for the Performing Arts and Tower will be built in the space on East Main Street and will feature housing, retail shops, restaurants and additional parking. Parcel 5 is one of the Midtown development parcels created since the demolition of Midtown Plaza was completed in 2011.

 The project is a co-venture between Morgan Communities and the Rochester Broadway Theatre League (RBTL).

“This project is going to happen,” said RBTL chairman Arnie Rothschild. “This is a culmination of a lot of years of combinations and planning. This was the right moment, and so, it’s now a reality.”

It is estimated to cost $130 million. Last month, Paychex founder Tom Golisano pledged $25 million to the performing arts center in Rochester.

“A standalone arts center would not give us, we didn’t believe that financially that it would feasible,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “But with this particular project, with the housing and the retail, we believe that that is a better mix that will allow this project to go forward.”

The performing arts center will have approximately 3,000 seats. A residential tower is also being planned with 150 rental units, some of which will be affordable housing. The tower will also have retail shops and restaurants at street level.

“This much anticipated selection for Parcel 5 is a victory for our city in every way and I am grateful to Bob Morgan, RBTL and Tom Golisano for their investment in Rochester and its people,” said Mayor Warren. “Today we will begin a journey that will bring a combined 776 construction and permanent jobs to those who need them most, all while reinvigorating our city center with a hub of activity, entertainment, housing, commerce, shops and restaurants. This project will be an anchor for new development and represents continued progress for our city and, most importantly, its residents.”

The CEO of Visit Rochester said a performing arts center will help draw tourists and generate revenue.

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PathStone CEO to serve on New York Fed’s Community Advisory Group –

PathStone CEO to serve on New York Fed’s Community Advisory Group

April 21, 2017

 A local business leader has been tapped to serve on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s new Community Advisory Group.

PathStone Corp. CEO Stuart Mitchell

PathStone Corp. president and CEO Stuart Mitchell joins 11 other nonprofit and community organization leaders from throughout the New York Fed’s second district. Members will provide the Fed with a real-time view of the issues faced by a diverse set of communities across the district.

The first meeting was held this week, according to a statement.

“The New York Fed’s region is home to incredibly diverse populations,” said Anand Marri, vice president for outreach and education at the New York Fed. “The Community Advisory Group will offer critical, firsthand insight about the economic opportunities and challenges they are experiencing. This will fill knowledge gaps about how various groups are faring, which can inform our programs and research.”

The New York Fed has several other advisory councils, including ones focused on small business and agriculture, the regional economy and community depository institutions. The Community Advisory Group is unique because it focuses on understanding the economic needs and realities of individuals and households from a range of geographies, officials said.

Members were selected based on their experience and expertise, as well as their ability to represent specific communities such as youth, seniors, veterans, immigrants and rural populations.

PathStone is a private, non-profit, regional community development and human service organization providing services to farmworkers, low-income families and economically depressed communities throughout New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Vermont, Virginia and Puerto Rico. The organization was founded in 1969.

Major changes coming to how your credit score is calculated –

Major changes coming to how your credit score is calculated

by: Ken Sweet

NEW YORK (AP) — The math behind your credit score is getting an overhaul, with changes big enough that they might alter the behavior of both cautious spenders as well as riskier borrowers.

Most notably for those with high scores: Abiding by the golden rule of “don’t close your credit card accounts” may now hurt your standing. On the other side, those with low scores may benefit from the removal of civil judgments, medical debts and tax liens as factors.

 Beyond determining whether someone gets approved for a credit card, a credit score can affect what interest rate and what spending limit are offered.
The new method is being implemented later this year by VantageScore, a company created by the credit bureaus Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. It’s not as well-known as Fair Isaac Corp., whose FICO score is used for the vast majority of mortgages. But VantageScore handled 8 billion account applications last year, so if you applied for a credit card, that score was likely used to approve or deny you.

Using what’s known as trended data is the biggest change. The phrase means credit scores will take into account the trajectory of a borrower’s debts on a month-to-month basis. So a person who is paying down debt is now likely to be scored better than a person who is making minimum monthly payments but has been slowly accumulating credit card debt.

“This is a really big deal,” said John Ulzheimer, an expert in credit reports and credit scoring. Ulzheimer said taking trended data into account has long been considered by the credit score industry, but hasn’t been implemented on a meaningful scale. He expects more lenders to adopt it.

People with high credit scores may be affected the most, since the goal of trended data is to see warning signs long before a borrower actually gets into serious trouble.

 “When it comes to prime borrowers, you may not have bad behavior on your credit file, but a trajectory provides very powerful information,” said Sarah Davies, senior vice president for research, analytics and product development at VantageScore.

The change also shakes up the maxim that had people keeping open accounts they’d opened long ago. An important metric in calculating credit scores has been the portion of their available credit people are actually using. A person with $5,000 in credit card debt with a $50,000 limit across several cards could score better than someone with $2,000 in debt on a $10,000 limit because of that ratio.

But VantageScore will now mark a borrower negatively for having excessively large credit card limits, on the theory that the person could run up a high credit card debt quickly. Those who have prime credit scores may be hurt the most, since they are most likely to have multiple cards open. But those who like to play the credit card rewards program points game could be affected as well.

Taking civil judgments, medical debts and tax liens out of the equation comes after a 2015 agreement between the three credit bureaus and 31 state attorneys general. The argument was that civil judgments and tax liens —which can significantly hurt a person’s credit score — were often full of errors. Medical debt was being reported on a person’s credit report before there was time for insurance to reimburse.

People with those items on their credit reports now could see a bump of as much as 20 points. But it won’t help much if they also have negative marks like delinquencies and debts that have gone to collection.

Mortgages, though, won’t be affected. The government-owned mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac require a FICO score for eligibility. Because of their outsized influence on the market, few mortgage lenders use VantageScore.

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Why Bed Bugs Are Becoming So Much Harder to Kill –

Why Bed Bugs Are Becoming So Much Harder to Kill

by: Amanda MacMillan

Bed bugs are developing resistance to two common insecticides, according to a new study in the Journal of Economic Entomology. Experts warn that many infestations can no longer be defeated with chemicals alone.

The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, has previously shown considerable resistance to several other insecticides, including a commonly used one called deltamethrin. The reduced effectiveness of these chemicals is considered a main cause of the bed bug’s resurgence over the last decade, especially in big cities.

To find out if bed bugs were also developing resistances to two other common insecticides, bifenthrin and chlorfenapyr, Purdue University researchers gathered 10 different bed bug populations from Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, DC, and exposed them to the chemicals for seven days.

In five of these populations, they found reduced susceptibility to bifenthrin—meaning that more than 25% of the bed bugs survived. Three populations also had reduced susceptibility to chlorfenapyr.

Concerns about insecticide resistance aren’t new, says lead author Ameya Gondhalekar, research assistant professor at Purdue’s Center for Urban and Industrial Pest Management. “The longer you use any product for the control of a particular pest, the more resistance issues you are going to have,” he says. In 2015, a University of Kentucky survey found that 68% of pest management professionals considered bed bugs the most difficult pest to control.

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Mental health housing opening on Alexander Street –

Mental health housing opening on Alexander Street

New York State announced the opening of a housing development for people with psychiatric disabilities and low-income families.

The $16.6 million mixed-use housing development is called Alexander Commons. On-site behavioral health services will be provided by East House.

There’s 60 units in the building; 30 for people recovering form mental illness, and 30 are available to low-income families.

Wells Fargo customers in $110 million settlement over fake accounts –

Wells Fargo customers in $110 million settlement over fake accounts

by: Matt Egan

Wronged Wells Fargo customers are finally getting a bit of payback.

Wells Fargo has reached a $110 million preliminary settlement to compensate all customers who claim the scandal-ridden bank opened fake accounts and other products in their name.

 It’s the first class action settlement by Wells Fargo since authorities revealed in September that the bank opened up to 2 million fake accounts to meet unrealistic sales targets that have since been eliminated.
Wells Fargo said on Tuesday the payments to customers will be in addition to refunds the bank has already paid out.

The settlement is expected to cover several lawsuits: including one filed in May 2015 in the Northern District of California, a separate one launched last September by customers, as well as 10 others.

Wells Fargo’s $110 million settlement marks a reversal from just a few months ago when it tried to kill a fake account lawsuit by forcing victims to resolve their claims quietly in closed-door arbitration instead of open court.

But Wells Fargo (WFC) apparently decided not to enforce those controversial forced arbitration clauses and reach a settlement instead. The bank cited a desire to “move forward and avoid continued litigation.”

Wells Fargo said the $110 million settlement will cover “all persons” who claim that without consent the bank opened an account in their name, submitted an application or enrolled them in a product or service. The period covered begins on January 1, 2009 and ends whenever the settlement is executed.

Customers who believe they were impacted by Wells Fargo’s fake accounts don’t need to take action yet because a court still needs to sign off on the agreement that was reached in principle.

Wells Fargo said once preliminary approval is received, a notice will be sent out explaining the process for customers to make claims.

It’s not clear yet how much each customer will receive because it’s too early to say how many of them will be included in the settlement.

After attorneys’ fees, Wells Fargo said the $110 million will be used first to compensate customers for out-of-pocket losses. That includes fees incurred due to unauthorized account openings.

Wells Fargo said whatever is left in the pool after that will be split among customers in the class, “based on the number and kinds of unauthorized accounts or services claimed.”

These payouts are on top of the $3.2 million Wells Fargo has paid to customers over 130,000 accounts over potentially unauthorized accounts. That works out to a refund of roughly $25 per account.

A Wells Fargo spokesman told CNNMoney that “in most cases” customers who received a remediation check are eligible to take part in the settlement.

“It really pissed me off,” Brian Kennedy, a retiree from Maryland who discovered a Wells Fargo checking account he never asked for, told CNNMoney in September.

“They expect people to not be paying attention and hope you don’t notice,” Kennedy said.

Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan said in a statement that the settlement is “another step in our journey to make things right with customers.”

Despite the settlement, Wells Fargo doesn’t sound like it’s moving away from its practice of enforcing the fine print agreements that require customers to enter arbitration when issues arise. Forced arbitration has been criticized because it allows companies to hide misbehavior in private mediation rather than opening it up to public scrutiny in court.

“Wells Fargo continues to believe that arbitration is an efficient and effective way to resolve disputes,” a Wells Fargo spokesperson said.

KBW analyst Brian Kleinhanzl wrote in a report that the settlement is a positive for shareholders because it removes “another overhand” related to the scandal.

But he noted that Wells Fargo’s sales results “remain subdued” since the settlement. Wells Fargo recently revealed its credit card applications plunged by 55% in February, the worst performance since the scandal.