United Way of Greater Rochester names new president and CEO – www.democratandchronicle.com

United Way of Greater Rochester names new president and CEO

by: Meghan Finnerty

Entering its 100th year, the United Way of Greater Rochester named a new president and chief executive officer on Tuesday.

Jaime Saunders will join United Way as president on Jan. 10, 2018.

Former president and CEO, Fran Weisberg, called a “powerhouse” by her successor, said she is excited about her transition into “just helping Rochester.” Weisberg held the position since 2015.

“It’s time to give the torch to someone new,” Weisberg said — Saunders is “the perfect person.”

Dan Burns, board chairman, said the search committee was made up of about 10 people who started the “important job,” in June. From 60 inquires, 25 applied, from there the list was narrowed to only five who had interviews and assessments. The final two were taken to the board where Saunders was unanimously selected.

 Experienced in helping the community, Saunders is the President and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center, and will assist the center’s search for a new president in her departure. Additionally she has prior leadership experience working at the Center for Governmental Research and Foodlink.

“Passionate” is not an adequate word to describe Saunders, Burns said, what she brings to the table is much more. “Her experience in serving those most in need will bring a welcome perspective to the work that United Way does to identify the greatest local challenges.”

At a 10 a.m. press conference, Saunders said, “I have long admired this important community organization, throughout my career I have had the honor of working for United Way community funded agencies, programs and strategic partners, such as CGR. I have seen first hand the incredible impact United Way has on our community, every day.”

In her experience at CGR, data from science and research was used to look at complex community challenges. This experience will be an asset to the new position, officials said.

The “marriage” between working with the “head and heart,” is important to her. At United Way, she will seek to help the community with immediate needs and simultaneously work to tackle long term problems, she said.

“I am deeply humbled to be selected as the new leader of United Way of Greater Rochester.”

Click here to read more…

Puerto Ricans fleeing hurricane aftermath welcomed in Rochester -whec.com-

Puerto Ricans fleeing hurricane aftermath welcomed in Rochester

ROCHESTER, NY (WHEC) – Following Hurricane Maria, hundreds of people relocated to Rochester from Puerto Rico.

On Thursday, they were welcomed to the Flower City with a reception put on by IBERO.

“In response to the number of families that are relocating to Rochester from Puerto Rico, IBERO is leading a collaborative effort that ensures they feel welcomed and receive the assistance they need to rebuild their lives,” wrote the organization.

The Welcome Reception included dozens of organizations and agencies assisting the hundreds of families with finding places to live, work, and go to school.

“As of Friday, November 3rd, approximately 500 individuals (250-300 families) have arrived in Rochester and the surrounding area. As the only full service dual-language human services agency, and with nearly 50 years of experience, IBERO has the expertise that is needed to serve this new influx of residents,” stated IBERO.

Due to the response effort at the local level, IBERO has established a new Hurricane Maria Fund to help provide clothing, school supplies, food, and toiletries to the families. Monetary donations can be made with a credit card online.

Checks can be made out to Ibero American Action League and mailed to 817 East Main Street, Rochester, NY 14605. The memo line should be noted as IBERO’s Hurricane Maria Fund.

Click here to read more…



by Jordan Mazza

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Hurricane Maria has devastated Puerto Rico – the only home the Lopez family has ever known.

“In some places we don’t have food, we don’t have water,” said Jann Lopez. “And people pass hungry. It’s bad, very, very bad. I lost my job in Puerto Rico because of Hurricane Maria and came here to have a job, school for my kids, and better lifetime for my entire family.”

They’re among approximately 500 people so far who have moved from Puerto Rico to Rochester after the hurricane.

“They have absolutely nothing,” said Patricia Cruz-Irving of the Ibero-American Action League. “So imagine what it must be like having lost everything and then having to move somewhere else. At least they have family to come to, but still having to rebuild from the ground up.”

That’s why the Ibero-American Action League organized a welcome reception Thursday at 938 Clifford Avenue to help them acclimate to their new home and connect them with support services.

“I’m here today because they’re helping us out,” said evacuee Wanda Alaya, who moved here from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. “And I’m so glad they have all these agencies giving us an opportunity to stand up again.”

Dozens of local and national agencies were on hand Thursday to help displaced families with housing, jobs and medical care.

“The idea is to give them one location that they can come to, so they don’t have to go to one building for one thing, one location for something else,” Cruz-Irving said. “They can come here for everything they need, and then from here, they can start to rebuild their lives.”

Agencies present included the Red Cross, the New York State Department of Labor, Foodlink, the Rochester City School District, and the Rochester Housing Authority.

The RHA says hurricane evacuees are considered a “super-preference” in getting Section 8 housing.

“They would actually come to the top of the list,” said Sandra Whitney of the Rochester Housing Authority. “So it’s a way for us to be able to get housing when that’s obviously their greatest need right now.”

Whitney says at least 20 landlords have agreed to give evacuees one or two months of free rent.

And Ibero says it will continue to operate a multi-agency resource center in the Clifford Avenue space at least one day per week.

Click here to read more…

First ICON Honors winners announced – rbj.net

First ICON Honors winners announced

by: Rochester Business Journal Staff

The recipients of the first-ever Rochester Business Journal ICON Honors awards have been selected.

The honorees are business leaders over the age of 60 who have had notable success and demonstrate strong leadership both within and outside of their chosen field.

“Strong leadership, a commitment to mentoring and being an active community member are qualities shared by the ICON Honors recipients,” said Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, publisher of the Rochester Business Journal. “They have moved business in Rochester forward, both their own businesses and the Rochester business community in general. ICON Honors recipients have committed many years to making our area a wonderful place to live and to work, and they truly deserve to be called icons. Rochester Business Journal is pleased to honor them.”

The ICON Honors awards will be presented Monday, Dec. 18, at a reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Genesee Valley Club, 421 East Avenue in Rochester. Winners will be profiled in a special publication that will be inserted into the Dec. 22 issue of the Rochester Business Journal and available online at www.rbj.net.

The 2017 Honorees are:

  • Don Alhart, News Anchor and Associate News Director, WHAM-TV
  • Kate Bennett, CEO, Rochester Museum & Science Center
  • Thomas F. Bonadio, Managing Partner and CEO, The Bonadio Group
  • Vincent Buzard, Appellate Counsel, Harris Beach PLLC
  • Lauren Dixon, CEO, Dixon Schwabl
  • Richard Dorschel, President, Dorschel Automotive Group
  • Hilda Rosario Escher, President and CEO, Ibero-American Action League
  • Garth Fagan Founder, Garth Fagan Dance
  • Thomas Golisano, Founder, Paychex Inc.
  • George W. Hamlin IV, Chairman, Canandaigua National Bank & Trust
  • Nelson Leenhouts, Chairman and CEO, Home Leasing LLC
  • Giovanni LiDestri, CEO, LiDestri Foods
  • Sandy Parker, Former CEO, Rochester Business Alliance
  • Joel Seligman, President, University of Rochester
  • I C Shah, Founder, ICS Telecom Inc.
  • Albert Simone, President Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Louise Slaughter, Congresswoman, New York’s 25th Congressional District
  • Justin L. Vigdor, Of Counsel, Bond Schoeneck & King Attorneys
  • Danny Wegman, Chairman, Wegmans Food Markets
  • Fran Weisberg, President and CEO, United Way of Greater Rochester

Click here to read more…

Renting homes is overtaking the housing market. Here’s why – www.democratandchronicle.com

Renting homes is overtaking the housing market. Here’s why

by: Bob Sullivan

Single-family rentals — either detached homes or townhomes — are developing faster than any other portion of the housing market. These rentals outpace both single-family home purchases and apartment-style living, according to the Urban Institute.

“Almost all the housing demand in recent years has been filled by rental units,” says Sara Strochak, a research assistant with the Urban Institute. She also states that single-family rentals have gone up 30% within the last three years.

This change is unique to newer generations. But when did rentals become so popular? And why are people more inclined to rent than to buy? Below, we’ll further discuss the rise in rentals and how it affects the housing market.

When did the rise in single-family rentals start?

The housing bubble collapse and the recession that followed shattered the decades-old tenet of American wisdom that you can’t go wrong buying a home. Most of the housing market fallout from the Great Recession has finally receded — foreclosures and underwater mortgages are back to traditional levels and housing values have recovered in most places. But one thing hasn’t recovered: Americans’ unquestioned desire to own a home.

Today, single-family rental homes and townhomes make up 35% of the country’s 44 million rental units, compared to 31% in 2006.

Who is leading this trend?

Millennials are leading the way to single-family rentals, and myriad factors contribute to this trend. Many young adults aren’t in a hurry to lay down roots, whether they’re prone to traveling or simply aren’t ready to commit to one area or one home. Student loans and stagnant incomes can also make it harder to save up for a down payment. And it’s inevitable that young people who came of age during the housing bubble would be reluctant to take a leap of faith and commit to a 30-year mortgage.

“While the age distribution of the U.S. population suggests most millennials are reaching the age of household formation and demand for single-family homes, much of this demand is likely to be channeled into the rental market,” says Strochak.


UB Law School clinic to help hurricane victims – www.nydailyrecord.com

UB Law School clinic to help hurricane victims

by: Bennett Loudon

The University at Buffalo School of Law has launched a new law clinic — The Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic — to provide free legal assistance to the victims of Hurricane Maria.

Applications are now being accepted and eight students will be selected to receive about two weeks of intensive training in preparation for a 10-day trip to the island in January.

The students, who will receive academic credit for their participation, will work under the supervision of Kim Diana Connolly, professor and vice dean for advocacy and experiential education, and director of the law school’s clinical legal education program.

“We are still in the process of working with experts on the ground to figure out what their legal needs are going to be in January,” Connolly said.

“We’re not deciding what we’re going to do until we hear from our partners what they need. So we are still in the process of designing the curriculum,” Connolly said.

Disaster-related legal issues typically include landlord/tenant problems, insurance claims, FEMA claims and consumer issues, such as contractor fraud.

UB faculty, local alumni and other experts will help provide the training for students. Some training will be done by video conferencing between Buffalo and Puerto Rico.

“We’ve had a lot of alumni interest in providing their expertise, so we’ll be able to have students with iPads down there connecting with alumni who will be able to provide some support,” Connolly said.

A fundraising campaign with a $30,000 goal is underway to help pay for travel costs.

Connolly also is planning to blog about the project while she’s in Puerto Rico.

“People are going to be able to follow along on the clinical legal education website here at the law school,” Connolly said.

Luis Chiesa, a criminal law professor at the law school and a native of Puerto Rico, will act as an academic consultant.

“Access to justice is at the heart of everything we do at the law school and this initiative is a perfect example,” Dean Aviva Abramovsky said in a news release.

UB School of Law is currently hosting three students from the University of Puerto Rico School of Law who could not continue their studies in Puerto Rico because of the hurricane.

“We have a long history of providing pro bono service and teaching our students to view the world with compassion, knowing that regardless of where they ultimately choose to work, they have a moral responsibility, as lawyers and as leaders, to use their skills and knowledge to ensure justice and to give back,” she said.

Donations to support the effort can be made online at: https://goo.gl/SHvRcF.

For more information, call (716) 645-2167 or email law-clinic@buffalo.edu.

Low inventory leads to intense housing market – Democrat & Chronicle – October 24th, 2017

Low inventory leads to intense housing market

by: Mary Chao

When David Richard and his girlfriend Kate Burt decided to buy a home earlier this year, they knew it was a competitive real estate market. Sellers of homes in the $175,000 to $225,000 range in good condition in east sidesuburbs were receiving multiple offers, often over asking price.

The couple worked together with their Realtor Christine Yager of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services on a strategy, writing a personalized letter to the sellers. They won the multiple bid scenario and recently moved into their four-bedroom, 2,100 square-foot home in Penfield.

“You have to be creative in this market,” Yager said.

The current market is decidedly a seller’s market, with conditions favoring people who have homes for sale. The demand for homes is especially strong in the mid-tier price points of $175,000 to $250,000 in eastside suburbs, $120,000 to $200,000 in westside suburbs and the southeast area of Rochester, according to area real estate professionals.

What’s driving the frenzied market is the lack of available inventory and fear of rising interest rates, Yager said. According to the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors, the number of homes listed fell by 22.6 percent during the third quarter of 2017 that ended Sept. 30, compared with the same period last year with 1,702 homes listed for sale in Monroe County. That caused the quarterly sales to fall by 6.3 percent with a total of 2,597 sales during the three months of July, August and September.

The low inventory issue has been a drag on the market all year, beginning with an extremely busy market in January as buyers fight for the available homes on the market and continuing well into late in the year as the market extends into late fall.

Click here to read more…

Helping Puerto Ricans relocating to Rochester – wxxinews.org

Helping Puerto Ricans relocating to Rochester

by: Alex Crichton

The Rochester community is responding to the needs of thousands of people from Puerto Rico who are expected to relocate here.

Rochester already has one of the largest Puerto Rican population’s in the country, and it’s expected to grow as more people evacuate the island, devastated by hurricanes.

Local officials say they are here to help.

Monroe County Cheryl Dinolfo says the county’s website outlines services such as SNAP benefits, emergency housing and employment assistance in both English and Spanish.

“We’re expediting all our services for our friends and family members in need from Puerto Rico.  We’ve already seen about a hundred students have come through the Rochester City school District, that’s families as well,” she said.

It was Ibero American Action League that brought together over a dozen agencies and organizations to provide the resources these families need.

Ibero President and CEO Hilda Rosario Escher, says they’ve set up a multi-agency resource center at 938 Clifford Avenue.

“It’s like one-stop shopping.  They don’t have to go all over the city,” she said.

Escher, like many Puerto Ricans in Rochester, has family back home.

“My sister went hungry for four days.  They don’t have electricity, no running water, so they are trying to make the best of it,” she said.

Around a dozen organizations are collaborating on the response effort, including the Housing Authority, American Red Cross, Rochester Regional Health and the Rochester City School District.

Housing Authority Executive Director John Hill says they’re reaching out to landlords, asking them if they are willing to help evacuees by giving them a unit for free for a month or two.

The Housing Authority is also working with FEMA to help evacuees find a home.

Here’s Ibero’s Hilda Rosario Escher on meeting the needs of Puerto Ricans coming here:

What you need to know about reverse mortgages … and their new rules – www.marketplace.org

What you need to know about reverse mortgages … and their new rules


New rules for reverse mortgage loans are set to take place on Monday. The main headline: Senior homeowners won’t be able to borrow as much. Plus, they’ll have to pay more upfront. The reason is that one in five reverse mortgages taken out between 2009 and last year are expected to default. So, what’s the purpose of a reverse mortgage and why the new rules? We break down what you need to know.

What is a reverse mortgage?

It’s a way of creating retirement income for people 62 and older. It’s like a mortgage, but, well, in reverse. Instead of paying the bank each month, a reverse mortgage lender pays the borrower. It can be monthly income, a lump sum or a line of credit. It’s taking out a loan, using your home as security.

People seeking reverse mortgages must meet with a HUD-approved reverse mortgage counselor. And when the homeowner moves or dies, the loan, plus interest, has to be paid off.

Usually the home is sold to do this. If the home value is less than the balance owed, the heir or estate is on the hook to pay back the home’s value. Nothing more.

What are the new rules?

The new rules basically do two main things: Homeowners won’t be able to borrow as much and they’ll have to pay more in insurance on the loans.

The formula that determines how much one can borrow, based on their home value, will put new limits on the amount seniors can now borrow. New rates will be lower compared to prior levels.

The Federal Housing Administration insures all reverse mortgage loans. New borrowers will see higher upfront costs for insurance, but lower annual premiums than they would have paid in the past.

So, why the new rules?

Well, this program has been a money-suck for the Federal Housing Authority. Almost one in five, 18 percent, of reverse-mortgage loans taken out from 2009 to June 2016 are expected default or already have. That’s cost the federal housing authority $12 billion.

A HUD report issued last fall found that nearly 90,000 reverse mortgages held by seniors were at least 12 months behind in payment of taxes and insurance and were expected to end in “involuntary termination” in fiscal 2017. That’s more than double the number the year before.

With the new rules, seniors won’t be able to borrow as much, perhaps limiting how likely they are to default. And they’ll have to contribute more upfront to the fund that insures their loan, if a default occurs.

But, on the other hand, that could cut off funds to those that need it.

But I heard reverse mortgages can be risky. What’s going on with that?

The Consumer Financial Protection bureau found that reverse mortgages can be confusing for seniors. In a report, they found seniors entered loans confused over loan terms and requirements, and that some were given false information at loan origination. And if borrowers default on their loan, their home can be at stake.

“It’s a huge deal because you’re seeing people that are in their end of life now facing losing their home,” said Jennifer Levy, an attorney at JASA Legal Services for the Elderly. “They might be homeless, literally homeless, because they owe a quarter’s worth of property taxes.”

People need to pay property taxes under a reverse mortgage. If they don’t, the lender will pay, then ask for repayment. Plus interest. Levy said her clients are often given insufficient notice when they owe a lender additional money or the lender does not make the terms clear to borrowers.

“And basically gave them a misunderstanding that they can stay in their home for the rest of their lives without making any payments,” Levy said. “And they certainly didn’t explain that they could find themselves in foreclosure for something as little as forgetting to pay your property taxes.”

It’s been a major criticism of reverse mortgages. Instead of a tool to help seniors refinance, critics say, it’s been plagued by improper practices. Not all agree.

“If you have no mortgage and you don’t pay property taxes, what happens? You lose your home,” said Peter Bell, president and CEO of National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association. “So that’s not really the reverse mortgage at blame. That’s the failure to meet a basic obligation of property ownership.”

Still, foreclosures on these mortgages have been on the rise. A 2011 mandate from HUD requires loan servicers to work out a repayment plan with seniors in tax and insurance default. And to foreclose if there is no way to help them.

“Most of the seniors that we see are living on a limited fixed income, which you know could consist of just Social Security or maybe a pension and some food stamp benefits,” Levy said. “A lot of them don’t qualify for a repayment plan.”

Mary Leo, a certified reverse mortgage counselor with The Housing Project at PathStone in Rochester, New York, works with people across the income spectrum. She said lower-income clients can rely on the reverse mortgage to pay off an existing mortgage or for essential household goods.

She said it’s rare for her clients to default, but knows it happens. She said changes to the program will help sustain its existence.

“If changes aren’t made to sustain that insurance pool, we’ll be without the program,” Leo said.

To hear Marketplace Weekend’s interviews with Peter Bell and Mary Leo, tune in using the player above. 



(Real Property Tax Law, Section 485-a)

1. Authorization for exemption

Section 485-a of the Real Property Tax Law, at local option, authorizes a declining 12 year partial exemption from real property taxation and special ad valorem levies for non-residential property converted to a mix of residential and commercial uses. The property must be located in a city (other than New York City), a town, or a village.

An eligible city, town, or village may enact a local law to adopt the residential-commercial urban exemption. After such a city, town, or village adopts the exemption, the county and any school district that is located wholly or partially within such city, town or village, other than the fiscally dependent Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers School Districts, also may adopt the exemption with the same restrictions approved by the city, town, or village. The county’s approval of the exemption would require a local law and the school district’s approval would require a resolution. Consult your assessor to ascertain whether the city, town, village, or county, and, where applicable, the school district have adopted the exemption.

2. Eligible Conversions

An eligible conversion must have a cost in excess of $10,000 or a higher amount stated in the local law adopted by the city, town, or village. The assessor can tell you the minimum cost required in your city, town, or village. The exemption applies only to construction commenced subsequent to the date on which the local law adopted by the city, town, or village takes effect. The exemption does not apply to improvements for dwelling units in a hotel and also does not apply to ordinary maintenance and repairs.

3. Duration and computation of exemption

The exemption is calculated as a percentage of the “exemption base,” which is the increase in assessed value attributable to the conversion. The base should be determined for each year in which there is such an increase attributed to an eligible conversion. The exemption is to be calculated by the following method:

Year of Exemption                           Percentage of Exemption

1 through 8                                          100% of Exemption Base
9                                                          80% of Exemption Base
10                                                        60% of Exemption Base
11                                                        40% of Exemption Base
12                                                        20% of Exemption Base

       The exemption generally may not be granted concurrent with or subsequent to any other exemption for the same improvements. There is an exception when, during the period of a previous exemption, payments in lieu of taxes or other payments were made to the local government in an amount equal to or greater than the taxes that would have been payable for that period if the property had received exemption pursuant to Section 485-a. In that situation, a residential-commercial urban exemption is to be granted for 12 years less the number of years the above-described payments were made.

4. Time of filing application

The application must be filed with the assessor on or before the applicable taxable status date. Since taxable status dates for cities, towns, or villages vary, you should ask the assessor for the correct date.

Once the exemption has been granted, the exemption may continue for the authorized period provided that the eligibility requirements continue to be satisfied. It is not necessary to reapply for the exemption after the initial year in order for the exemption to continue.