NY regulator proposes foreclosure law change

ALBANY – New York’s top bank regulator on Tuesday proposed amending state law to shorten the foreclosure process for homes with delinquent mortgages.

Department of Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky, addressing mortgage bankers, said New York’s process averages 900 days from the date of filing to the sale of the property. That’s nearly a year longer than the national average, according to the department.

“The chronic nature of New York’s foreclosure problem is not a result of a new wave of defaulting homeowners,” Lawsky said. “Rather, the long tail of the crisis is due, in significant part, to problems in the way our state’s broken judicial foreclosure process is currently applied.”

In the foreclosure crisis from the 2008 recession and burst housing bubble, New York law was amended to require a settlement conference between the lender and homeowner to “negotiate in good faith.” Lawsky said those conferences are frequently plagued by delays that worsen homeowner prospects of keeping their residences as interest and penalties mount. It also hurts lenders and investors whose investments lose value, he said.

Read more: http://nydailyrecord.com/blog/2015/05/19/ny-regulator-proposes-foreclosure-law-change/#ixzz3an20YnTQ

Lawsuit alleges racial bias by apartment rental company

A southeast Rochester landlord discriminated against a woman by refusing to rent her an apartment because she was African-American, state human-rights lawyers allege in a lawsuit.

The legal action, filed in state Supreme Court in Rochester, accuses Hanna Properties LLC and a company employee of engaging in “unlawful discriminatory conduct” by discouraging a prospective tenant, Janetta Cleveland, when she called about an apartment in October 2012.

The landlord’s actions “contribute to unlawful discrimination in housing in the state of New York,” the lawsuit claims.

While the merits of this lawsuit have yet to be tested in court, experts say racial discrimination in rental and owner-occupied housing persists in the Rochester area decades after federal and state laws outlawed such practices.

“It’s still out there,” a fair-housing attorney told the Democrat and Chronicle in 2013 for a story on housing discrimination that was part of the newspaper’s Unite Rochester project.

read more at the Democrat & Chronicle…

Volunteers sought to learn about, fight poverty

Do you want to be part of what state and local leaders are billing as an unprecedented effort to fight poverty in Rochester?

Now is your chance.

Leaders of the Rochester-Monroe County Anti-Poverty Initiative are forming seven work groups to learn all they can about different aspects of local poverty and recommend strategies for attacking each area of the problem. Volunteers are needed to serve on the work groups.

Learn more about the initiative and find out how to get involved at United Way of Greater Rochester’s website, uwrochester.org.

This news came at the end of a 31/2-hour listening session Thursday at the Rochester Educational Opportunity Center, where speakers described the complexity and depth of Rochester poverty from different angles — education, jobs, housing, health and public safety.

read more…

Pedals for Project Homeless Connect



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.


Stuart is ready to pedal!!!

141 Click here to donate!!!


Click here to print form
Demonstrate your support and encouragement by making a generous donation; click on the form above.

You can learn more about Project Homeless Connect, volunteer and/or make a donation by clicking on the following website: http://homelessconnectrochester.org/

Project Homeless Connect Rochester 2013 Participants

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
Community Place
Coordinated Care Services, Inc.
Community Dentistry & Oral Disease Prevention/Eastman Institute for Oral Health U of R
Davidson Fink
Dimitri House
Eastman Dental
Empire Justice Center
Fidelis Care
Friends of St. Bridgette
House of Mercy
The Housing Council at PathStone
Judicial Process Commission
Legal Aid Society
League of Woman Voters
Medical Motors
Mercy Outreach Center
Mercy Residential Services
Monroe County
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
PathStone Corporation
Planned Parenthood
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
Rochester Works
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
Trillium Health
URMC-Center for Community Health
Veterans Administration
VA Women
Veterans Outreach Center
Volunteer Legal Services Project
Volunteers of America
Womens Initiative Supporting Health (WISH)
Xerox Corporation
Thank you for your generous support!


Stuart J. Mitchell

Ruling paves way for apartments near Eastman House-D&C Article-May 7, 2014

Ruling paves way for apartments near Eastman House
Brian Sharp, Staff Writer


An artist’s rendering of the proposed apartments near the Eastman House. (Photo: Hanlon Architects , Submitted) (Left)

A state Supreme Court justice has struck down the George Eastman House’s multiple legal challenges to a proposed 99-unit apartment complex planned for University Avenue.

In four separate decisions, Justice Thomas Stander ruled in favor of developer Morgan Management and the property owner, the Monroe Voiture veterans group, which will see its 90-year-old clubhouse renovated as part of the project.

360° view: George Eastman House

“Judge Stander’s ruling puts to rest an 18-month-old argument over use of the land,” read a statement issued by Paul Ciminelli, the veterans’ attorney and an Army veteran himself. “This is a great day for the more than a dozen veterans groups of Rochester who have come to call Monroe Voiture home.”

At 933 University Ave., the three- and four-story development would sit at the heart of the Neighborhood of the Arts, on the edge of one of Rochester’s most revered historic districts, and within eyesight of its prized Eastman House — one of only two National Historic Landmarks in the city (the other being the Susan B. Anthony House).

Both the Eastman House and the Neighborhood of the Arts neighborhood association have been staunchly opposed to the development.

“The Preservation Board determined, after an exhaustive review of the project over a years time and with a number of hearings (which included numerous opportunities for public input), that the project is supported by the standards and considerations set forth in Rochester City Code,” Stander wrote, “and that the project will protect and enhance the East Avenue Preservation District.”

He found “no basis” for the challenge brought by Eastman House nor for a request to permanently restrain Morgan, the veterans group and city from moving ahead. Stander also dismissed a claim that city staff acted improperly in its review on the project’s impact, finding no merit to that claim nor an additional charge questioning actions by the Planning Commission.

“The record of the hearings presented to the court clearly show that this was not a ‘rush to judgment’ or one lacking in foundation,” Stander wrote, continuing later that the board’s approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness application for the project “was not arbitrary and capricious, was not an abuse of discretion, and did not violate lawful procedure.”


Reilich: Crack down on absentee landlords

Reilich: Crack down on absentee landlords by Meaghan M. McDermott

Marking his first 100 days on the job by delivering his first address as Greece town supervisor, Bill Reilich pledged a crackdown on absentee landlords — particularly in the Dewey Avenue/Stone Road area — and promised a new municipal court that will only handle code violations.

Reilich, who took office in January after a decade in the state Assembly, spoke to members of the Greece Chamber of Commerce at a luncheon at Ridgemont Country Club.

He said the rental property initiative stemmed from concerns raised by residents in the town’s older section, where ill-maintained rental properties threaten to destabilize neighborhoods and lower property values.

Houses are good values there, many with selling prices under $100,000, and being purchased by investors often from out-of-state, he said.

“But the problem is the landlords are a million miles away and don’t know what’s going on in the home, but the neighbors do,” he said. Renters move next to long-time owner-occupied homes and “sometimes the individual living there leaves cars on the front lawn, or the lawn’s growing high or the home needs paint and the homeowner who’s been there for 40 years says ‘I’m sick of this,’ moves away and their home becomes rental and on and on down the street.”

Details of that plan will be hashed out in coming weeks, but would likely include town inspections every three years to ensure the properties are up to code before they can be certified as habitable.

Carole Messina-Provost, with the neighborhood association Dewey Corridor Neighbors, applauded the move.

“I give the town a standing ovation,” she said. “For them to do this is being very proactive. A plan where they will do inspections of homes is fantastic and I think it will encourage people to know that if they buy a house and plan on making it a rental, they are going to have consequences if they don’t keep it up.”

In his speech, Reilich also noted that the state of business development in town is strong, and said he anticipates as many as three new car dealerships along West Ridge Road in coming months.

Also part of Reilich’s upcoming agenda is a new Police Department headquarters on the town hall campus on Vince Tofany Boulevard. The department now runs out of a converted waste water treatment plant on Island Cottage Road that is too small and inadequate for the needs of a 21st Century police force, Reilich said. Funding for that project would be freed up in 2016 when the town finishes paying off its bonds for building town hall.

Additionally, the department will soon be adopting a more formalized uniform and going back to black and white police cars. Charcoal gray patrol vehicles were rolled out in 2012.

As for his campaign pledges to make the town’s parks nicer, Reilich said crews are already working to clear brush and construct new restrooms in Badgerow Park South, and that residents will soon have a lodge facility in Braddock Bay park that rivals newly-constructed lodges in nearby county-owned parks.

“There should be no reason for residents to have to go out of our town for these kinds of facilities,” he said.

Although he didn’t give details on where the parcel of land is, Reilich said town officials are in negotiations for a property that would become a new town park on Lake Ontario, giving residents access to the water.

And, he promised a “major announcement” coming up on Monday morning, but was mum on details.

“A lot of things are going on in a very short time,” he said.



The Forgotten History Of The Congressman Who Sacrificed His Life To Fight Homelessness-Think Progress Article-March 3, 2014

The Forgotten History Of The Congressman Who Sacrificed His Life To Fight Homelessness
Scott Keyes

Michael Stoops (right), now of the National Coalition for the Homeless, and others sleep out on a grate near the U.S. Capitol

If the Obama administration succeeds in its goal of ending chronic homelessness in the United States, it can thank a group of activists who turned the course of history 27 years ago Monday, including a congressman who sacrificed his life for the cause. He and other supporters helped push through landmark legislation that addressed homelessness and was the only new social program enacted during the entire Reagan administration.

On the evening of March 3, 1987, a group of homeless advocates, Congressmen, and celebrities convened on the sidewalks near Capitol Hill to bear witness to the homelessness epidemic that had erupted across the country. Experts point to the 1980s as the genesis of modern homelessness, as cuts to low-income housing programs and changes like the deinstitutionalization of psychiatric hospitals led to a surge in the population of Americans experiencing homelessness.

Yet in 1987, there was no serious federal money to address homelessness. A federal response to the problem would have undermined President Reagan’s goal of rolling back America’s social safety net, after all.
But Rep. Stewart McKinney, a moderate Republican from Connecticut, knew that homelessness was an issue that Congress could no longer ignore. “He cared a great deal about the homeless,” Michael Stoops, director of community organizing at the National Coalition for the Homeless, told ThinkProgress. In fact, he was the first Republican on Capitol Hill willing to go public about a need for a federal initiative for the homeless.

So it was in 1987 that McKinney and other congressmen crafted a landmark piece of legislation — originally known as the Urgent Relief for the Homeless Act, later renamed the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act — that finally took action to fight homelessness from a national level. The McKinney Act created more than a dozen programs that provide homeless services, with another $1 billion in funding for things like emergency shelters, job training, and housing vouchers.

But it still needed to get through Congress, no easy task in an age of austerity.
That’s when advocates, led by the Community for Creative Non-Violence and the National Coalition for the Homeless, decided to hold the Great American Sleep-Out in March. It was purposefully timed to coincide with the bill’s vote on the House floor. A number of celebrities, including Martin Sheen and Dennis Quaid, slept outside that night with their homeless brethren. More than a dozen congressmen also participated, as well as many homeless advocates. “I slept with 13 members of Congress in one night!” Stoops joked.
McKinney’s doctors and colleagues strongly advised him against sleeping outside that chilly March night. The Connecticut congressman had been living with AIDS since 1979, when he became infected during a blood transfusion. It’s extremely dangerous for anyone to sleep outside when temperatures are below freezing, but especially so for someone who could easily die from pneumonia.

McKinney knew the danger but decided the issue was so important to him that he was willing to risk his life for it. Other members of Congress tried to make sure he dressed as warmly as possible, Stoops recalled. But when it’s 20-something degrees out, an extra sweater only goes so far.

Two months later, McKinney died from AIDS-related pneumonia. He likely contracted the illness by staying out in the cold during the Great American Sleep-Out.

During those two months, though, the bill passed both chambers of Congress with veto-proof majorities, all but forcing Reagan to accede.

When asked how important the Sleep-Out was to the bill’s passage, Stoops noted that the bill made it through the House within just two months of being introduced, then passed the Senate the following month. “For a piece of legislation with funding attached to get through Congress that quickly, it’s really amazing,” he said. He credited the Sleep-Out with playing a key role in bringing national attention to the legislation.

Stoops also credited McKinney’s courage not just in risking and ultimately sacrificing his life for the cause, but for doing so in a party that’s generally hostile to increased social spending. “Without his support, we wouldn’t have been able to get many Republican members of Congress to support the bill,” Stoops said.

It’s been an invaluable law in many ways. As the National Coalition for the Homeless noted, it “has created valuable programs that have saved lives and helped hundreds of thousands of Americans to regain stability.” Just as important, McKinney helped make the fight against homelessness a national priority, an enduring legacy 27 years after his death as the United States tries to end chronic homelessness.


Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter to leave department-D&C Article-March 3, 2014


Greece Police Chief Todd Baxter to leave department
Meaghan M. McDermott and David Andreatta, Staff writers

Long before Chief Todd Baxter earned a reputation for restoring public trust in a Greece Police Department mired in scandal, he was an Army veteran looking for work in a civilian world.

He was fresh from three years of active duty as a military police officer in South Korea and Fort Leavenworth, Kan., but back home in Rochester the best jobs he could get for nearly 18 months were as an airport security guard and ripping old furnaces out of homes.

“The military recruiter told me that I’m going to go into the military and come out very hirable and marketable. That’s not always the case,” Baxter said. “I remember that feeling, when I was riding my motorcycle to the airport where I was working security. I really had nothing to fall back on.”

He recalled his homecoming experience Monday upon announcing that he would leave the Police Department after nearly four years to lead the Veterans Outreach Center, a Rochester nonprofit organization that reintegrates troubled veterans into civilian life.

Baxter, 48, speaking at the South Avenue veterans center, said he would remain in Greece until the end of the month and start as the center’s executive director on April 2.

Following the retirement of its longtime executive director, Thomas Cray, in 2010, the Veterans Outreach Center has had trouble retaining leaders, cycling through two permanent executive directors and one interim in fewer than four years.

Bob Janson, chairman of the center’s board of directors, said the search committee sifted through a pool of more than 100 applicants from across the country in search of a candidate with strong leadership skills who was “vested in this community and in veterans’ futures.”

“That person is Chief Todd Baxter,” Janson said.

Baxter, who resides in Ogden, took over at the Greece Police Department in 2010 amid mounting public distrust stemming from the imprisonment of the former chief, Merritt Rahn, and two other officers on corruption charges.

During his tenure, he introduced policy changes in the way the department collected evidence and investigated its own through Internal Affairs. He hired many officers and was credited by counterparts in other jurisdictions with restoring integrity to a department associated with patronage hires.

Greece Supervisor Bill Reilich, who will choose Baxter’s successor, said a third of the department’s officers were brought in and trained by Baxter.

“He will certainly leave the department much better than he found it,” Reilich said in a statement.

Prior to joining the Greece Police Department, Baxter spent 22 years in the Rochester Police Department. He was an administrative aide to three city chiefs of police and temporarily commanded a patrol division of more than 200 personnel.

Baxter served in the Army Reserves until 2005.

Baxter said he considered his mission accomplished in Greece and looked forward to a new mission of aiding veterans. He said he is particularly passionate about helping homeless veterans get back on their feet.

Baxter conceded that in stepping down from a job overseeing a budget of $17.5 million in Greece to a $3.5 million budget at Veterans Outreach Center he would take a modest cut in pay. Janson, the board chairman, said Baxter would be paid about $130,000 a year.

“There is only one thing that will lead me away from police work, I have a true calling to be a cop, and that is the soft spot I have in my heart for veterans,” Baxter said.