Register now to take part in the 3rd Annual Pedaling For PathStone event!

September 23rd is quickly approaching! Register now to take part in the 3rd Annual Pedaling For PathStone event! The dollars raised by this fully supported 62-mile, metric century bike ride through the beautiful rural farmlands southwest of Rochester to the Genesee Country Village & Museum will support PathStone Corporation‘s unwavering mission to provide opportunity and self-sufficiency to families living in the Finger Lakes region. We hope you consider supporting by joining us as a rider or sponsor. #PedalingForPathStone

pedaling for PS

Click here to register!

 

City accepting pre-applications for Owner-Occupant Roofing Program – 13wham.com

City accepting pre-applications for Owner-Occupant Roofing Program

by: WHAM

Rochester, N.Y. – The City of Rochester is now accepting pre-applications for its Owner-Occupant Roofing Program.

The program distributes grants funds which can be used to cover costs of roof, gutter and related repairs. The city says a limited number of homeowners will be selected for the grants in a drawing scheduled for October 3.

 Pre-applications will be accepted through September 28. The process is open to owner-occupants 62 or older who have not previously filed for a pre-application. Applicants must also own a single-family, residential property in the city.

Individuals can check to see if they are already on the application list by visiting their Neighborhood Service Center.

Click here to read more…

Key Bank begins $16.5 billion Community Benefits Plan – rbj.net –

Key Bank begins $16.5 billion Community Benefits Plan

by: Gino Fanelli

In an effort to better support small businesses, low-income housing and charitable endeavors across the country, Key Bank has pledged $16.5 billion, or approximately 12 percent of the bank’s assets, over the next five years into the National Community Benefits Plan.

The plan, announced in March 2016, is a collaboration with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization dedicated to injecting capital into underrepresented communities in order to spur economic development, led by an 18-member National Advisory Council announced on Aug. 16. Following the acquisition of First Niagara Bank in 2016, Key Bank pledged $20 million to the First Niagara Foundation, a community reinvestment program focused on education, mentoring, workforce and neighborhood development. The Council met for the first time on Thursday, Aug. 3.

Additionally, of the 18 members of the Key Bank’s National Advisory Council, two are based in Rochester: Hubert Van Tol of community development nonprofit PathStone Enterprise Center and Ruhi Maker of Empire Justice Center. Along with the National Advisory Council, the Plan has established Regional Councils for Western New York, the Great Lakes Region and Albany.

The Community Benefits Plan has invested $1 million over the course of five years, Van Tol said, with $200,000 already invested.

“They also took over First Niagara’s program investment in the Enterprise Center,” Van Tol said. “That is low-interest, long-term loans totaling $1 million in Rochester and half a million in Buffalo, that we in turn use to make loans to small businesses.”

As far as benefiting community through smart investment, Van Tol said his place stands as getting money into the hands of minority-owned businesses.

“We have made a commitment to try and increase the number of small businesses owned by African-Americans and Latinos by at least 15 new businesses per year,” Van Tol said. “We’re getting to that, since December we’ve loaned to 10 African-American businesses in Buffalo that were previously barely starting up. That’s the kind of impact we are focused on.”

The $200,000 awarded from the plan will be placed into staff and capacity building, Van Tol said.

While Van Tol’s focus is primarily on investment into small businesses, the National Community Reinvestment Plan aims to impact the 15 states served by Key Bank through a heavily layered mix of investment. Specifically, of the $16.5 billion, the plan pledges $5 billion to residential mortgage lending, $2.5 billion to small business lending, $8.8 billion to community investment, $3 million to product development aimed at underserved rural and urban communities an $175 million into philanthropy.

In a release from Key Bank, Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney outlined her hopes for the plan’s impact.

“The National Community Benefits plan embodies and amplifies KeyBank’s purpose to help clients and
communities thrive,” Mooney said. “We believe in the power of partnership and accountability as we carry out this mission. The National Advisory Council will ensure that we have both as we move forward.”

This sentiment of partnership and accountability was echoed by president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition John Taylor.

“KeyBank’s commitment raised the bar,” Taylor said. “Leadership matters, and when it mattered most Beth Mooney and her team stepped up and delivered for communities. We look forward to a meaningful partnership of mutual accountability as we work together to build stronger communities.”

Key Bank begins $16.5 billion Community Benefits Plan

Military families struggle to find affordable housing – HousingWire –

Military families struggle to find affordable housing

by: Kelsey Ramirez

Affordability is a problem that plagues homebuyers and renters in most areas of the U.S., but the Military community could be some of the worst hit as home prices continue to increase.

Military families don’t get to choose what city they live in, or when they will move there. As a result, they can’t choose an area that is most affordable and meets their family’s needs.

And a surprising majority of them choose not to live on base or even in military privatized housing, according to a study, Military Families and Their Housing Choices, from LMI Government Consulting, conducted on behalf of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In fact, it showed 38% of military members are homeowners, while another 32% rent their home.

The chart below shows the breakdown of military members’ housing choices:

Click to Enlarge

military housing

(Source: LMI)

And now, more military members than ever before are staying in the U.S. as overseas deployment hit its all-time low. A new study from the Pew Research Center showed U.S. military overseas presence is at its lowest point since 1957, the earliest year with comparable data.

The chart below shows even since 2009 and 2010, U.S. military presence overseas dropped off drastically.

Click to Enlarge

military housing

(Source: Pew Research Center)

And as overseas deployment drops, that means more military members are looking for homes in the U.S.

In May last year, a Trulia study found military members at the lower end of the pay scale struggled to find housing options. In some markets such at Fayetteville, Arkansas, or Florida Keys, Florida, up to 90% of the available homes listed would take up 75% of the median local monthly housing stipend.

But from May 2016 to May 2017, home prices increased 5.8%, according to the National Association of Realtors, reaching a new high, and increased even higher through the summer, leaving 70% of the military community which rents or owns homes off the base struggling to find affordable housing.

Click here to read more…

City releases plan for nuisance properties, absentee landlords – Democrat & Chronicle

City releases plan for nuisance properties, absentee landlords

by: Briank Sharp

Efforts aimed at increasing landlord accountability are at the center of a renewed city effort to crack down on unkept or unruly properties.

Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council member Jackie Ortiz outlined the latest actions during a news conference Wednesday at City Hall.

Efforts aimed at increasing landlord accountability are at the center of a renewed city effort to crack down on unkept or unruly properties.

Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council member Jackie Ortiz outlined the latest actions during a news conference Wednesday at City Hall.

Landlords could soon be required to provide publicly-available contact information. And the city has bolstered its efforts to publicize code violations and enforcement actions online.

The toughest actions might still be to come. But a court case out of Tompkins County has put those measures on hold, for now.

Rochester’s nuisance abatement program dates at least to 1985. It was overhauled in the mid- to late-1990s, when officials amended city code to specify 35 nuisance categories, created a point system and established thresholds for action; the ultimate penalty being closure.

Enforcement has varied, including an effort to tighten regulation of corner stores that the city dismantled after portions of the law were struck down in courts and by the state.

Last year, the city began a full program review, with help from the consultant firm of former Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. A final report delivered in June suggests changing how and what violations are counted and opens the door to penalizing tenants and lessees.

 The latest snag comes from a June decision of the New York state Supreme Court’s appellate division, striking down the nuisance abatement laws in the village of Groton, Tompkins County. In a separate case before the state Supreme Court challenging Rochester’s program, city officials have been asked to respond to how the Groton ruling affects matters here.

“We don’t want to put some (added) step in place and have it ruled unconstitutional,” Warren said.

For now, the city might bolster a landlord registry already requiring building owners to provide the city with contact information to also require a business phone for either themselves or a local property manager that can be accessible to neighbors.

City Council will consider legislation on that matter later this month.

“We have heard too many times, ‘I wish I knew what was going on … I wish I knew who to call'” about a problem property, Ortiz said, noting that the use of LLCs and PO boxes often shield landlords’ identities from public view. “Although logistically (this is) a simple change, I believe it will be a powerful one.”

The city also began posting code violation information to the property portal of its website last year and recently nuisance data and created a “Nuisance Points Map” to highlight chronic offenders throughout the city.

The toughest actions might still be to come. But a court case out of Tompkins County has put those measures on hold, for now.

Rochester’s nuisance abatement program dates at least to 1985. It was overhauled in the mid- to late-1990s, when officials amended city code to specify 35 nuisance categories, created a point system and established thresholds for action; the ultimate penalty being closure.

Enforcement has varied, including an effort to tighten regulation of corner stores that the city dismantled after portions of the law were struck down in courts and by the state.

Last year, the city began a full program review, with help from the consultant firm of former Mayor William A. Johnson Jr. A final report delivered in June suggests changing how and what violations are counted and opens the door to penalizing tenants and lessees.

 The latest snag comes from a June decision of the New York state Supreme Court’s appellate division, striking down the nuisance abatement laws in the village of Groton, Tompkins County. In a separate case before the state Supreme Court challenging Rochester’s program, city officials have been asked to respond to how the Groton ruling affects matters here.

“We don’t want to put some (added) step in place and have it ruled unconstitutional,” Warren said.

For now, the city might bolster a landlord registry already requiring building owners to provide the city with contact information to also require a business phone for either themselves or a local property manager that can be accessible to neighbors.

City Council will consider legislation on that matter later this month.

“We have heard too many times, ‘I wish I knew what was going on … I wish I knew who to call'” about a problem property, Ortiz said, noting that the use of LLCs and PO boxes often shield landlords’ identities from public view. “Although logistically (this is) a simple change, I believe it will be a powerful one.”

The city also began posting code violation information to the property portal of its website last year and recently nuisance data and created a “Nuisance Points Map” to highlight chronic offenders throughout the city.

Click here to read more…

NY to spend $7.3M on college-in-prison program – Democrat & Chronicle

NY to spend $7.3M on college-in-prison program

by: Jon Campbell

ALBANY – New York will spend $7.3 million from bank settlements to expand college education programs in prisons, including the Albion Correctional Facility in Orleans County.

Seven colleges will begin, continue or expand offerings for prisoners at 17 correctional facilities across New York over the next five years as part of the College-in-Prison Re-Entry Program, a joint program between Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.

Cuomo and Vance unveiled the colleges and prisons plan Monday.

Among them are Medaille College, based in Buffalo, which will continue its program at Albion, which launched in 2008. Cornell University, meanwhile, will be active in four correctional facilities, including Five Points in Seneca County.

In all, there will 400 to 500 new seats each year for college-education programs in state prisons, according to Cuomo’s office.

“It has never been more evident that a college education is an important stepping stone to success and by partnering with District Attorney Vance, that success will reach those who never thought they could achieve it,” Cuomo said in a statement.

 Cuomo first proposed spending public dollars to provide prisoners a free college education in 2014, pointing to studies that show lower recidivism rates among inmates who receive an education.

He was immediately met with a wave of backlash from conservatives and college students, who questioned the state covering costs for inmates at a time when expenses were rising for non-inmate students.

Last year, Cuomo and Vance came up with a compromise: Vance’s office provided more than $7 million recovered from settlements with large banks to fund a scaled-back program.

Some colleges — including Cornell and Medaille — already offered college courses to prisoners, though those initiatives were funded by foundations and other private donors. Statewide, about 1,000 prisoners currently take college-level courses, according to the state.

 Along with Cornell and Medaille, the other participating colleges in the state’s program are Mercy College, Bard College, New York University, Mohawk Valley Community College and Jefferson Community College.

The state’s program will only be open to prisoners with less than five years left on their sentence.

“We’ll hopefully equip them with very important skills that will enrich their lives once they’re on the outside and create a tool that will help them avoid returning to prison,” said Robert Eap, academic director of Cornell’s prison program.

Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor, R-Fishkill, Dutchess County, said he’s supportive of offering higher-education courses to prisoners.

Click here to read more…

Under Construction: Get an inside look at construction on the old McCrory’s building – Democrat & Chronicle

Under Construction: Get an inside look at construction on the old McCrory’s building

by: Brian Sharp

Signs on the wall still proclaimed “Low, low prices everyday!” or directed visitors to domestics, hardware, housewares and pets in the basement. Intricate tilework was revealed behind drywall. And a new view of downtown opened up as the bricked-over face of the building was torn away.

On Tuesday, we plan to take you inside 200 E. Main St., for the first installment in our Under Construction live tour of downtown construction projects. Project developers will lead the walk-throughs, explaining their plans and taking viewer questions.

Head over to the D&C Facebook page at 11:30 a.m.Tuesday.

Future visits will provide a look inside Sibley Square, and a walk along the East Main Street improvement project.

At 200 E. Main St., plans are for the Social Security Administration to fill the upper floors, while the city’s Municipal Parking and newly formed Traffic Violations Agency (traffic court) will take the basement, leaving the street level for a yet-to-be-determined use.

“We are going to wait and see what the market does for a little bit, see what turns up next spring,” said developer Lewis Norry.

City Council is considering a 20-year lease with optional renewals. The first-year lease payment would be $195,000, and build out of the space is projected at $1.2 million. Together, the city and federal offices could bring more than 750 people per day to the building, Mayor Lovely Warren wrote in a memo to City Council.

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/08/07/under-construction-go-inside-old-mccrorys-building-east-main/544690001/

Henrietta woman fights foreclosure to keep her house and wins – Democrat & Chronicle

Henrietta woman fights foreclosure to keep her house and wins

by: Erica Bryant

Some think that banks don’t have to help homeowners who have fallen on hard times.  “A bank isn’t a social agency,” one reader said in an email after last week’s column about a woman who is fighting foreclosure. “If the customer can’t pay, they take the house.”

Actually, the law requires banks to make a number of specific efforts to help homeowners keep their property. More people need to know their rights, and that there are free resources to help protect them.

Just ask Jean S. Blattner, a Henrietta woman who recently received a mortgage modification that will allow her to keep her home. It took four years, more than a dozen court appearances, many tears and two local non-profit organizations to accomplish this.

Blattner bought a house on Fawn Ridge Road for $125,000 in 2005. She says she never missed a payment until she was laid off from her job as a purchasing agent in 2013. Money was tight and she didn’t pay her mortgage in March and April of 2013.  Shortly after, she got a letter from U.S. Bank, which had purchased her mortgage, saying that she was in danger of losing her home.

 At first, she tried to navigate on her own, which meant sitting on the phone for hours and being transferred again and again to different bank employees who couldn’t help her. U.S. Bank sent her different letters demanding different amounts of money.  When she sent checks towards her debt, U.S. Bank returned them. “They wouldn’t take a nickel,” she said.  After seven months of getting nowhere, she was in panic.

At the unemployment insurance office, Blattner had seen a flier offering free housing counseling services through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. She called the Housing Council, which hosts HUD counseling services, and was connected with foreclosure prevention counselor Christopher Schello. He eventually connected her to Empire Justice Center, where attorney Kevin Purcell took her case.

The foreclosure process can be maddening, even to attorneys who deal with it for a living, Purcell said. But free counseling and legal services can help distressed homeowners avoid certain pitfalls that can hurt a person’s chances of getting a loan modification, extension or lower interest rate. For example, if a mortgage holder asks for your bank statement, you have to send all pages, even if the last page printed is blank. If you don’t mail that blank page, the bank will say that it did not receive the document. It will probably not tell you that you need to send the blank page, so it is likely that you will repeat the mistake.

Average people don’t often have hours in the middle of the day to spend on the phone trying to get through to bank employees who can help them.  Or to deal with lost documents, confusing, incorrect and conflicting requests and other problems.

“People ask all the time ‘are the banks evil?’” said Purcell. “I tend to blame it more on incompetence.” He said that banks have not set up processes that can handle the volume of homeowners who are facing foreclosure. The bank employees who are in charge of delinquent mortgages are often overwhelmed and undertrained.

The problem has been widespread. In 2013, U.S. Bank was among the 10 banks that agreed to pay $8.5 billion dollars in a federal lawsuit because they mishandled foreclosure paperwork and skipped mandated steps in the foreclosure process. The money was probably small comfort to the thousands of people who were unjustly forced to leave their homes, a profoundly traumatic experience.

 Blattner feared this would happen to her and said she often left her court appearances in tears. She credits Schello and Purcell with encouraging her not to give up as the process dragged on, the paperwork piled up and the bank wouldn’t take payments. “I had $20,000 in the bank and they wouldn’t take it,” she said. “I was dumbfounded.”

Meanwhile, bank representatives kept calling to encourage her to accept a short sale of her home. Blattner refused because she didn’t want to lose all she had worked for. “I was proud of the fact that I was a working woman and I put myself through school and I bought myself a home,” she said.

U.S. Bank did not respond to questions about Blattner’s experience before the deadline for this column. But her story has a happy ending. She got a job with Children Awaiting Parents. After 4 years and countless hours of effort, she has reached an agreement with U.S. Bank to modify her loan. Her missed payments will be added to the back end of her mortgage. She has planted new hostas and flowers at the property and sent thank you notes to Schello and Purcell.  She encourages any homeowner who is falling behind on mortgage payments or facing foreclosure to seek help quickly. “You have got to stand your ground,” she said. “I saved my home because of non-profits that supported me.”

Rochester has four HUD-approved Housing Counseling Agencies that offer free foreclosure prevention assistance. For more information call The Housing Council at Pathstone at (585) 546-3700, Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Rochester at (585) 546-3440, Marketview Heights Association at (585) 423-1540 or Urban League of Rochester at (585) 325-6530.

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Veterans Outreach Center names new Executive Director, Laura Stradley – whec.com

Veterans Outreach Center names new Executive Director, Laura Stradley

by: Laura Stradley

Laura Stradley has been named the new Executive Director of the Veterans Outreach Center.

Stradley is currently the Director of the Monroe County Veterans Service Agency. She previously worked as a Program Manager at Veterans Outreach Center from 2011-2012.

Since March 2014, Stradley has been on the VOC Board of Directors. She also served for eight years in the United States Army from 1996-2004.

“I have spent countless evenings and weekends advocating for the needs of veterans and I am eager to continue the great work the VOC does every day,” Stradley says. “Having worked in the veteran’s community for more than a decade, I have an unabashed passion for serving my brothers and sisters in arms.”

Stradley was an inductee of the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame in 2015, and received the 2017 Vietnam Veterans Chapter 20 (VVA 20) Service Award this past spring.

Executive Director Todd Baxter resigned in April. Judge Patricia Marks is currently serving as Interim Executive Director.

Stradley will begin her role on September 6.

Click here to read more…