GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNS LEGISLATION TO ENHANCE FIRE PREVENTION AND SAFETY
Sprinkler System Notification Now Required in Leases and Family Homes
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation (S5212A, A7641A) to strengthen precautions against residential fires, requiring written and bolded notice to prospective tenants of whether or not a particular home has a fire sprinkler system. Additionally, Governor Cuomo today signed legislation (A7916A, S4610A) that requires builders of certain family housing to provide buyers with information on the installation and maintenance of automatic sprinkler systems. “We have witnessed far too much senseless tragedy caused by avoidable fires,” Governor Cuomo said. “These new protections will give New Yorkers more information about the homes they choose to live in, which will allow them to make decisions on how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.” In January 2012, Marist College student Kerry Rose Fitzsimons, along with two others, died in a fire in an off-campus housing unit. Following this tragedy, her family and friends started the “Kerry Rose Foundation” to educate college students about fire prevention and safety, and in July of 2013, the Governor signed the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act. This law necessitates that colleges and universities provide written fire safety information to each student living in a college-owned facility, including whether or not the housing facility is equipped with a fire sprinkler system. The bills signed today calls for all new leases to provide, in bold face type, the existence or non-existence of fire sprinkler systems, as well as require builders to give buyers of one- and two-family homes information about automatic fire sprinkler systems. Senator Catharine Young said, “At a time when new homeowners are making the biggest investment of their lives, many are unsure of the facts when it comes to deciding on whether or not to install a sprinkler system in their new home. To make a confident and informed decision on what’s best for them and their family, they need to have good information on the benefits and cost of sprinklers. This law will provide the transparency they deserve and ensure that homeowners know their options and can make a good decision to protect their property and families.” Senator John Flanagan said, “This new law will ensure that every family has the information they need to protect their loved ones. The Fitzsimons family deserves our deep gratitude for their courage and vigilance in helping to protect the lives of all New Yorkers on behalf of their daughter Kerry Rose. I thank them for their continued leadership on this issue and thank Governor Cuomo for his support of this important law.” Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle said, “Ensuring our homes and buildings are equipped with the necessary fire prevention safety measures is one of the single most important things we can do to dramatically reduce fatality rates. Yet, the data clearly demonstrates that the majority of fire-related deaths transpire in homes without working sprinkler devices and smoke alarms. This legislation seeks to ensure that builders of newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings provide buyers with the necessary information to make informed decisions about the purchase of automatic fire sprinkler systems. I am grateful to Governor Cuomo for his attention and commitment to this issue.” Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker said, “It is critically important that leaseholders know whether or not their homes are equipped with sprinkler systems so they are fully prepared to deal with any fire emergencies that may happen. I want thank Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation and helping to protect the safety of all New Yorkers, and also give a special thanks to the Kerry Rose Foundation for their work advocating for fire safety.”
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Despite being charged with violating a new law by feeding the homeless in South Florida, 90-year-old Arnold Abbott said he’s not deterred and even went back out to serve more food at a public park.
The faceoff in Fort Lauderdale over the ordinance restricting public feeding of the homeless has pitted those with compassionate aims against residents and businesses trying to protect their neighborhoods.
Abbott, affectionately known as “Chef Arnold,” and two South Florida ministers were charged last weekend as they handed out food. They were accused of breaking the ordinance and each faces up to 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
“One of the police officers said, ‘Drop that plate right now,’ as if I were carrying a weapon,” Abbott said.
But on Wednesday night, Abbott and others served a four-course meal by the beach as police filmed from a distance and a crowd of nearly 100 mostly homeless and volunteers cheered their arrival.
“God bless you, Arnold!” some shouted. Others from the church carried signs in support of Abbott, saying the ordinance was violating their right to love thy neighbor.
Abbott, a World War II veteran and civil rights activist, told The Associated Press that he has been serving the homeless for more than two decades in honor of his late wife. He has several programs, including a culinary school to train the homeless he serves and help find them jobs in local kitchens.
The Veterans Outreach Center invites you to the 1st Annual Landlord, Property Managers and Investor Free Breakfast.
Join us to learn about services and resources available from the Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program (SSVF) at the Veterans Outreach Center (VOC) while having breakfast on us.
Meeting will include a free breakfast as well as discussion topics including services to help landlords, how to connect with qualified referrals, and how to list your units for free when you rent to low income Veteran households through the VOC SSVF Program.
Meet the staff of the VOC and the partner organization staff from the Housing Council.
Learn how you can support the our Veteran Households by providing safe, affordable housing while taking advantage of dedicated supports from the staff of the SSVF Program at the VOC.
“Successful Relationships for Housing for Homeless Households and Social Services Clients”
The Rapid Rehousing Partnership, a collaborative program of Coordinated Care Services, Inc., The Monroe County Department of Human Services, Alternatives for Battered Women, SpirtusChristi Prison Outreach, The Center for Youth Services, The Housing Council at Pathstone, Wilson Commencement Park and the YWCA is pleased to announce the availability of a free educational workshop for landlords and property managers, “Successful Relationships for Housing for Homeless Households and Social Services Clients”.
This workshop will be offered monthly, with the next workshop scheduled for:
Thursday, October 23rd
8:00 – 9:30 AM
The Housing Council at Pathstone
75 College Avenue (United Way Building) Eastman Room
As part of the community’s efforts to eliminate homelessness, a Rapid Rehousing approach is being used more and more to quickly move households from homelessness to stable permanent housing. The Rapid Rehousing Partnership Program provides the needed support for both the households moving into permanent housing andthe landlords who are renting units for our clients.
This workshop offering is aimed at providing landlords and property managers with the information needed to have positive working relationships and experiences with the Department of Human Services, our Rapid Rehousing Program and their tenants. This workshop is interactive; time is available to answer any questions you may have!
The workshop is delivered by representatives of the Monroe County Department of Human Services and the Rapid Rehousing Partnership. Topics include:
Rapid Rehousing Supports for Landlords and Tenant
Navigating the DHS Process
Direct Rent Payments
Landlord Tenant Security Agreement and Improvements in Claims Process
Working with DHS to Address Concerns
Property Inspections and Violations
Participation in the session is limited to 25 participants. Additional offering of this workshop will be scheduled on a monthly basis. To register for the August 26th session, please complete the attached registration form and return via fax or e-mail to:
PathStone Corporation is honored toserve as the host organization for the community wide collaboration of human service organizations who have partnered together to implement Project Homeless Connect along with the numerous groups and individuals supporting this project.
PathStone Corporation and the coalition are committed to raising $25,000.
Stuart J. Mitchell, President/CEO of PathStone Corporation, will pedal his bike 200 miles in 2 days on the Sea Way Trail beginning September 26, 2014 to raise awareness and funds for Project Homeless Connect Rochester.
Project Homeless Connect Rochester’s mission is to rally the community and local service providers to support and create lasting solutions for homeless Rochesterians by organizing a one day “one-stop shop” event, October 21, 2014 at the Blue Cross Arena, serving people who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless.
Project Homeless Connect goals:
To provide information and a connection to essential ongoing services such as: housing, employment, government benefits, veterans benefits, legal services.
To engage and increase the collaborative involvement of homeless consumers, business, human service community and individual volunteers to work together and create lasting solutions to homelessness.
To leverage private, corporate and foundation resources to increase housing options and build service capacity on behalf of homeless Rochesterians.
In 2013, Project Homeless Connect provided an opportunity for community volunteers to partner with a vast array of homeless service providers to introduce more than 650 people to essential and much needed resources.
Birth Certificate and Non-Driver ID’s are provided and paid for by Project Homeless Connect, which allows participants the basic necessity to access services. Additionally, legal assistance, health and medical screenings (which include HIV tests, flu shots, dental cleaning), mental health assessments, veteran services, housing services (which include referrals and shelter options), hair cuts, services for youth, substance abuse recovery services and employment information is also provided. Participants are welcomed and assigned a volunteer escort. The escort assists the participant in navigating the array of services allowing the participant to access the services which will benefit him/her the most. Breakfast and lunch is provided and each participant receives a winter coat.
Action for a Better Community Head Start
Alternatives for Battered Women
Blue Cross Arena
Cancer Services Program of Monroe County
Catholic Family Center
Center for Youth Services
Center for Disability Rights
City of Rochester
College of Brockport, Department of Social Work
Coordinated Care Services, Inc.
Community Dentistry & Oral Disease Prevention/Eastman Institute for Oral Health U of R
Empire Justice Center
Friends of St. Bridgette
House of Mercy
The Housing Council at PathStone
Judicial Process Commission
Legal Aid Society
League of Woman Voters
Mercy Outreach Center
Mercy Residential Services
Monroe County Department of Human Services
Monroe County Department of Motor Vehicles
Monroe County Department of Public Health
Monroe County Department of Vital Records
Monroe County DHS
Monroe County Legal Assistance Center
Monroe County Office for the Aging
Monroe County Office of Mental Health
Monroe County Public Defender’s Office
Monroe County Veterans Service Agency
Monroe County Youth Bureau
Nazareth College, Department of Social Work
New Creations Unisex shop/barbershop
Nutrition Outreach & Education Program
NYS Department of Veterans Affairs
NYS Department of Health-AIDS Institute
Open Door Mission
RAIHN (Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network)
Recovery House of Rochester
Rochester Area Community Foundation
Rochester Community Bikes
Rochester Gas & Electric
Rochester General Hospital
Rochester Housing Authority
Rochester Primary Care Network
RCSD Homeless Education Program
Rochester General Hospital
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army-Genesis House
Samaritan House Women’s Shelter
Sojourner House at PathStone
Social Security Administration
St. Joe’s Neighborhood Center
St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality
Strong Behavioral Health Homeless MICA Program/Mobile Community Crisis Team
Temple Brith Kodesh
URMC-Center for Community Health
Veterans Outreach Center
Volunteer Legal Services Project
Volunteers of America
Womens Initiative Supporting Health (WISH)
Thank you for your generous support!
About 20 protesters gathered Friday morning outside the Monroe County Office Building to press local officials to do more to help the homeless.
The demonstrators, organized by Sister Grace Miller of the House of Mercy, said the event was prompted by last week’s decision to restrict nighttime access to the Civic Center garage, which has served as a de facto place to sleep for homeless people who can’t or won’t find beds at shelters. The protests began last week, but this was the first at the county building on Main Street.
Miller said protesters want the county to reverse the lockout until permanent arrangements can be made for the people who stayed there and to come up with a broader plan to house the homeless.
A letter to County Executive Maggie Brooks from a “coalition of concerned residents,” including Miller, said that until the county meets its moral and legal obligations to the homeless, “we will engage in a campaign of nonviolent direct action and if necessary, legal action.”
Miller pointed to a section of the state constitution that says government must see to the “aid, care and support of the needy.” Advocates and private shelters are willing to do their part, but they can’t do it alone, she said.
“It is their responsibility, and they are putting their responsibility on us,” Miller said of the county.
In response, county spokesman Jesse Sleezer said that Monroe County spends nearly $5 million and contracts with 17 shelters to provide emergency housing each year. The county also is running a demonstration project to help reach long-term homeless people, he said.
“The county is proud of its work to improve outcomes for those affected and will continue to partner with respected local shelters and service providers moving forward,” Sleezer said in an email.
Some of the protesters chanted, “Maggie Brooks has got to go,” as well as, “Fight, fight, fight, housing is a human right.”
The garage is owned by the Civic Center Monroe County Local Development Corporation, a nonprofit company that the county set up in 2002 to manage the facility. Mapco Auto Parks operates the garage.
Plans to curb the homeless encampment came to light in November, when the garage owner and operator cited customer complaints and worsening sanitary conditions there. Miller and company have since asked for time to find an alternative. Miller still hopes to turn a North Clinton Avenue building into a new downtown shelter, with county support.
Miller said shelters can fill up, and that one of them turned away a few homeless men she brought there the night that the Civic Center garage closed.
The Open Door Mission on North Plymouth Avenue has 40 beds, and the number available each night can vary, said Karin Peña, the mission’s volunteer manager.
“Recently, we have been at capacity, especially with the closing of the Civic Center garage,” she said.
Coty A. Harris, 24, a homeless man, joined Friday’s protest. He said anyone could end up homeless.
There will be a period of time on Sunday, September 21, 2014, when your Electronic Benefits Transaction (EBT) card will not work for cash or food purchases, or to withdraw cash. This EBT downtime will begin around 12am on Sunday, September 21, 2014, and could last until 5pm that day. You will need to plan your cash and food purchases, and cash withdrawals accordingly. The downtime is necessary while New York State changes EBT vendors. After the conversion, your current EBT card will continue to work, and there is no need to replace your card. There will be no impact on your ability to access your medical benefits.
MPORTANTE! Por la presente le comunicamos que habrá un periodo de tiempo el domingo 21 de septiembre de 2014 cuando las transacciones de dinero en efectivo, compra de alimentos o retiro de dinero en efectivo con la tarjeta de EBT no se podrán llevar a cabo. La interrupción de los servicios de la tarjeta EBT empieza alrededor de las 12am el domingo 21 de septiembre de 2014 y podría durar hasta las 5pm del mismo día. Le sugerimos planificar sus compras y retiro de dinero en efectivo de acuerdo a dicho periodo. Esta interrupción es necesaria, dado que ese día, el Estado de Nueva York estará en proceso de cambiar los contratistas de tarjeteas EBT. Después de la conversión, su tarjeta actual de EBT continuará funcionando y no tendrá que remplazarla. Ello no afectará de ninguna manera su habilitación para recibir sus subsidios médicos.
Apartment living brought Bill and Jennifer Schumacher together, with the two neighbors meeting while living at the same complex in the Philadelphia area.
When she received a job offer in the Rochester area, the couple didn’t have much time to move, yet they ruled out living in another apartment fairly quickly.
“We said, ‘There’s no way we’re going into another apartment’ — we need bigger space, we wanted some ground outside,” Jennifer Schumacher said while in the living room of the 1,900-square-foot Pittsford house they rent from Broadtree Homes.“This is a perfect opportunity. It’s kind of perfect.”
Rochester-based real estate company Broadstone Real Estate — which traditionally has focused on commercial properties ranging from medical offices to retail space — is increasingly diving into the single-family home market.
Earlier this month, it announced under its Broadtree Homes shingle that it had purchased 127 single-family residences in the Atlanta area for roughly $10 million.That purchase more than doubled the portfolio of single-family homes it began amassing in late 2012 in the Rochester area and around Minneapolis and Palm Beach County, Florida.
Big money has in the past been relatively rare in the rental house market. About half of the nation’s 14 million rental homes are owned by individuals who own just one rental property, according to an analysis earlier this year on the single-family rental market by New York investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc. About 2 million are owned by investors with 10 or more properties.
Renting single-family homes “has always been a mom-and-pop business,” said Broadstone CEO Amy Tait.
However, that neighborhood of big real estate companies involved in renting single-family residences is becoming increasingly crowded. New York-based financial services giant Blackstone Group LP is now the largest landlord of single-family homes, after spending roughly $8 billion over the past two years buying 43,000 homes. California-based American Homes 4 Rent, the second-largest such firm, started in 2012 and now owns more than 25,000 homes in 22 states.
“The financing for investor-owned properties has not been widely available, (and) the investment and lending opportunities are immense and perhaps just beginning,” Keefe Bruyette & Woods said in the analysis.
Plummeting home prices in recent years opened the door to the investment opportunity, said Dave Bragg, managing director of the residential research team at Green Street Advisors, a real estate research firm. Meanwhile, the armies of homeowners who saw their residences foreclosed still needed housing. “If you’re living in a 1,500-square-foot house, you probably picked that for a need for a space,” Bragg said. “Foreclosure victims … didn’t really shift into apartments.”
Owning a home was long synonymous with the American Dream. But homeownership rates are on the wane nationally. According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the percent of Americans who own their own home was roughly 65 percent in the first quarter of this year, the lowest it’s been since 1995. The rate peaked in 2006, when 69 percent of Americans owned their home.
“It used to be people thought renting was synonymous with going into an apartment community,” said Tait.
But the financial crisis added more renters as people lost their homes, along with a glut of foreclosed homes that came onto the market, she said. Coupled with technology that made it easier to research and sell rental homes, the door swung wide open for big investors looking at large portfolios of homes, she said.
“Until the crisis, it really didn’t make sense for investors to do this,” Tait said. “It’s a management-intensive business.”
In a conference call with Wall Street analysts in May, David Miller, CEO of Minnesota real estate investment trust Silver Bay Realty Trust Corp., said that shrinking supply of single-family homes for sale, as well as increasing home-building costs “point to continuing positive trends for future (home price growth) and rental demand, all factors which bode well for … the demand for single-family rental homes.”
Since its start in 2012, Silver Bay has purchased and now owns and rents more than 5,700 single-family homes in eight states.
However, some worry those deep-pocket buyers are pricing individuals out of the housing market. In March, a group of 80 organizations — from Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland to the Fair Housing Council of San Diego — wrote an array of federal regulatory agencies, asking for rules or guidance regarding the big investments going on in rental properties.
That same month, U.S. Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., sent letters to the U.S. Treasury Department, Securities and Exchange Commission, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with numerous questions about the single-family rental market and the growth of bonds backed by the rental incomes from those properties.
According to the letters, despite low interest rates and purchase prices, southern California families and first-time home buyers “are finding it hard to purchase a home. It is increasingly the case that these homes are being purchased by investment companies looking to rent out the property, leaving the family purchaser of modest means shut out of the market. Similar stories are coming out of Florida, Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.”
“This is a new area that’s potentially going to grow bigger,” Takano said last week. “We have an obligation to try to understand it better — the financial instruments, the impact on communities, the impact on individual tenants. I’m not wholly comfortable with what I see going on — aspiring middle-class people being priced out of homes, out of a chance to get an equity stake in property ownership and what I also see as neighborhoods potentially destabilized while Wall Street extracts their cut before they want to flip and sell these homes.”
However, the pace of big firms buying houses has slowed in recent months as housing prices have climbed around the nation, Bragg said. Now those firms are more focused on consolidation and buying portfolios of homes from each other.
Broadtree is one of three lines of business for Broadstone, which also manages commercial properties including downtown Rochester’s Clinton Square tower, and also has a large and growing triple net lease real estate investment trust operation with assets of $900 million.
After dipping its toe in the market, having bought roughly 100 homes since late 2012 in the Rochester, Minneapolis and Palm Beach County, Florida, markets, “now we’ve learned enough to begin to ramp it up,” Tait said.
It has another 50 homes under contract in Atlanta. And Broadtree is looking at other portfolios of homes that had been previously snapped up by real estate companies now looking to sell. Tait said Broadtree has been offered well in excess of $1 billion worth of various portfolios as it looks to get more heavily into the market and own and operate the rental houses long term.
“There are lots of portfolios out there for sale,” Tait said. “It’s hard to do this efficiently without a couple hundred, 300 homes in a given market.”
Broadtree for now is looking at markets outside of Rochester for further home purchases, with a focus on areas that have greater growth potential — both in populations and in rents, Tait said. It also is busy raising its next round of cash for further acquisitions. While Broadstone investors typically have to make a minimum $200,000 buy-in, Broadtree for now is looking for investors to make at least a $50,000 investment, Tait said.
Eventually, the Schumachers plan to buy their own home. But for now, their two boys each has his own bedroom in the Buchanan Road house. Their two dogs get to enjoy a fenced-in backyard. They live on the type of quiet suburban street where everyone’s so friendly that neighbors brought Bill and Jennifer Schumacher house-warming gifts on moving in last December.
There’s only one drawback to the house, Bill Schumacher said: “Just the fact we don’t own it, that’s the only thing.”
Single-Family Homes Now a Growing Force in the Rental Market
Corrinne E Giller
When one pictures a rental property, the average person will likely imagine an apartment, likely in an urban building with a number of other units. However, in the post-recession age, more and more people are choosing to rent single-family homes as a way of accessing a larger living space while avoiding the financial risk of owning a home. This trend is creating a unique opportunity for both property owners and real estate companies to take advantage of a sector of the housing market that has previously been viewed as best left to individuals rather than businesses.In July 2014, the Rochester, N.Y.-based real estate company Broadstone Real Estate announced that it had purchased 12 single-family residences in the Atlanta area for around $10 million. This effectively doubled the company’s portfolio of single-family homes it had purchased in 2012 around Minneapolis, Palm Beach County in Florida, and Rochester. This signifies a shift in Broadstone’s direction, which has traditionally involved commercial properties such as medical offices and retail space.
However, Broadstone is not the only company suddenly taking an interest in single-family homes: the New York-based financial services group Blackstone Group L.P. is now the largest landlord of single-family homes after spending around $8 million on 43,000 homes. Likewise, the California firm American Homes 4 Rent started in 2012 and now owns over 25,000 homes in 22 states. This is a surprising shift in the rental house market: according to an analysis from the investment banking firm Keefe, Bruyette & Woods Inc., roughly half of the 14 million rental homes in the United States are owned by individuals who own one rental property. In contrast, only around 2 million are owned by people or groups with 10 or more properties. This is likely because rental homes are seen as a business that involves intensive management. After all, as most homeowners can tell you, the average house requires a significant amount of repairs and maintenance, a level that might not make sense for an investment in a traditional housing market. And yet the New York Times recently reported that single-family homes are the fast-growing segment of the United State rental market, with single-family units increasing to 33.5% of all rentals from 30.8% over a five year period.
But the housing market of years past has changed that: rapidly decreasing home prices in recent years have made this a more worthwhile venture. Moreover, foreclosure rates and changing financial situations have resulted in the lowest home ownership rates in 20 years, creating an increased population of potential renters. The interest rates on 15 and 30 notes have also dropped to historic lows, creating the perfect opportunity for companies and individual property owners to invest in single-family rental homes. Additionally, new technology has made it easier than ever for investors both big and small to find, purchase, and manage a portfolio of rental homes.
This trend could have a number of effects on communities around the country as the housing market improves. Chico, California, for example, is reportedly experiencing a surge of home building projects as low interest rates, coupled with overall economic improvement, make it possible for potential homeowners to once again buy their own homes. This could effectively prevent the single-family rental phenomenon from reaching Chico, or it could encourage landlords and real estate companies to build new properties for use as rental units.
In light of these potential developments, however, there have been concerns that real estate companies are pricing smaller investors out of the housing market. In March, 80 housing organizations wrote to a number of federal regulatory agencies, citing worries that area homeowners may be displaced or even that another housing bubble could be created. They have requested that the agencies provide legal guidance to help both landlords and companies navigate this changing market, but the agencies have yet to respond. It seems that, as with most, this investment opportunity comes with a degree of risk.
Housing Market in Rochester is Strong, Despite High Prices
from Trevor Simpson
According to Time Warner Cable News, the housing market in Rochester is experiencing high costs, even as the national real estate market starts to strengthen. A report by the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors announced that housing prices in the Rochester area are still abnormally high, and that potential buyers should expect to pay more for a house as well as additional work that may be required.
Local real estate agent Sal Salafia told TWC News that, despite high prices, the housing market in Rochester is actually quite stable, but that sellers are generally getting better deals than buyers. There are currently more sellers than buyers in the region, meaning that one seller is likely to get multiple bids on their home and have the ability to jack up the price. Nevertheless, industry expert Andy Burke has noted that it is still a good time to purchase a home, because interest rates are at an all-time low.
Of course, this trend doesn’t mean that homeowners who are thinking about selling a house don’t have to worry about making repairs and keeping the building in good shape. The stability of the real estate industry is closely tied to how stable the national economy is, and after the recent disastrous recession of the early 2000s, Americans should be careful and remember that markets can literally destabilize overnight. Homeowners making improvements in their homes — even homeowners who aren’t planning on selling anytime soon — should keep in mind that certain home improvement features depreciate in value, while others stay relatively stagnant. A sun room, for example, seems like a great addition, but it won’t necessarily add to the home’s value like a granite counter top will (whenever the homeowner does choose to sell).
Homeowners in the Rochester area looking to make renovations should be aware that there is no promise that the current “sellers’ market” trend will last. Instead of making renovations based on current style fads, real estate experts urge homeowners to consider the long-term value of home improvements.