Schumer helps secure federal approval for Rochester anti-zombie home program
by: Meaghan M. McDermott
Following a push by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has signed off on a Rochester program that helps put families back into formerly “zombie” homes.
Schumer on Wednesday visited a recently renovated home on Albemarle Street in Rochester to announce he’d sent a letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking that the agency expedite approvals for the city’s Asset Control Area Renewal Agreements, a program that had been in limbo since February. That program lets Rochester buy at low cost homes that had been foreclosed by the Federal Housing Administration.
Via its HOME Rochester initiative, since 2003 the city has used the ACA program to rehabilitate 750 formerly vacant foreclosed homes and sell them back to first-time homebuyers.
“While the City of Rochester is plagued by over 2,000 zombie homes, HUD’s renewal of the ACA is a major step in the right direction that will allow the city to turn those zombie homes into family homes,” Schumer said in an email. “The agreement will help address this zombie home epidemic by giving Rochester the right to purchase foreclosed-on homes at a cheap cost, refurbish them, and sell them to first-time homebuyers.”
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren thanked Schumer for his attention to the matter.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am that HUD officials have finally signed the two-year renewal,” she said in a written statement. “Now we can move forward with eliminating zombie houses and problem properties as we continue our efforts to create safer and more vibrant neighborhoods, more jobs and better educational opportunities for our residents.”
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Warren focuses on affordable housing
by: Tim Louis Macaluso
While there’s been a surge of development of market-rate housing downtown, new housing for the city’s working class and low-wage earners hasn’t kept pace, And city officials want to take a fresh look at how they evaluate proposals for affordable housing.
Every year, the city issues Requests for Proposals asking developers to build affordable housing, but “affordability” can have different meanings. That’s because the formula for calculating affordable housing is outdated and doesn’t reflect the city’s high concentration of poverty, Mayor Lovely Warren’s chief of staff, Alex Yudelson, says.
The City Charter currently defines low- and moderate-income residents as those earning up to 120 percent of the median income for the Rochester metropolitan area. That median is based on the incomes of people living in Monroe, Livingston, Ontario, Orleans, Wayne, and Yates counties. But that gives an inaccurate picture of the incomes of most people living in the city and what they can afford to pay for housing, Yudelson says.
At 120 percent of median income, city housing is considered affordable for a family of four with an income of $88,800. That’s more than many city families earn. And more than one-third of city families are spending more than 50 percent of their income on rent, even though the federal government guidelines recommend not exceeding 30 percent. This creates instability for the family and the city, says Yudelson. Families are evicted and have to find new housing, and sometimes children have to enroll in a different school.
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Medley Centre: Senior housing proposed in former Sears
by: Sarah Taddeo
PathStone Corp. is proposing to bring approximately 150 senior apartments to the Sears site at the former Medley Centre mall in a bid to meet the burgeoning need for senior housing in the Irondequoit area.
The project, which will enter Irondequoit’s town development process later this summer, is in its early development and design stages. The preliminary plans for the 7-acre parcel include:
- A two-story building with several courtyards, which will contain approximately 70 units, is proposed for the former Sears site. It will be connected to the existing mall structure via secure doors. Most of the units will be one-bedroom, with several two-bedroom apartments.
- A five-story building, containing approximately 80 units, will be built to the east of the first building and connected via a skyway. Four stories will contain housing, while the first floor would be covered parking.
- The project would have 155 parking spots.
- A community space for the buildings’ residents to have meetings, meals or other activities is proposed.
- PathStone is identifying services that could be integrated with the development to allow “frail elderly” to stay independent in the apartments as long as possible, said Amy Casciani, senior vice president for real estate development at PathStone.
- The agency is working to obtain state funding and tax credits for the project, said Casciani.
This proposal is well-suited for this specific parcel in that it revitalizes a portion of the former mall while providing for Irondequoit’s legacy population, Casciani said.
“There’s a lot of vacant malls all over upstate New York and all over the country, and there’s a huge need for affordable housing,” said Casciani. “This would be a great way to introduce affordable housing in communities that desperately need it, but don’t have enough space for new construction.”
As an Irondequoit native, she remembers seniors using the mall as a community and exercise space, she said. With new development on the horizon there, including the town’s community center, the area could soon become a hub for senior living again.
PathStone manages another affordable housing location in Irondequoit — Hobie Creek Apartments on Brower Road — and it has a lengthy waiting list for units, she said.
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