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 That’s because the formula for calculating affordable housing is outdated and doesn’t reflect the city’s high concentration of poverty, Mayor Lovely Warren’s chief of staff, Alex Yudelson, says.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.