The Housing Council

Helping Puerto Ricans relocating to Rochester –

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 –

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.


Essay: Helping homeless population with one-stop services – Democrat & Chronicle

Essay: Helping homeless population with one-stop services

by: Kathryn Bryan

One thing we all enjoy is the opportunity to go to the mall, where everything we need is under one roof.  Without this convenience, we could spend all day driving from one location to another to complete errands.

Now imagine running your errands without a car; our errands would take days to complete.

This is the experience homeless individuals have every time a need arises.  Accessing the necessary services to move out of homelessness is critical to their success.  To many homeless individuals this is the stepping stone needed to get out of homelessness.

The Project Homeless Connect Steering Committee is committed to coordinating an annual event to bring together the necessary service providers for a day of services, a day of caring.

Project Homeless Connect allows homeless and at-risk individuals to access a plethora of services in one day.  The event, held this year on September 14 at the Blue Cross Arena, brought together service providers who offered medical, housing, employment, education and veterans’ services to the homeless.  Last year , Project Homeless Connect brought together over 75 service providers, 300 volunteers and 700 participants.  This year, we had  over 85 service providers for the 2017 Project Homeless Connect.

 During Project Homeless Connect, the energy in the arena is vibrant as participants, organizers and volunteers greet each other with dignity and respect.  A volunteer is partnered with each participant to navigate services to ensure each personreceives what is needed to become self-sufficient.  Barriers that prevent homeless individuals from accessing many necessary services are removed.

The goal of Project Homeless Connect is to provide information and a connection to essential, ongoing services  including housing, employment, government benefits, veterans’ benefits and legal services. In order to meet immediate, basic needs, the event offers lunch and provides access to medical and dental check-ups, haircuts and hygiene services.

PathStone Corporation became the lead agency for Project Homeless Connect  in 2011.  The program is a natural fit for PathStone.  PathStone is a private, not-for-profit regional community development and human service organization providing services to low-income families and individuals, farmworkers and economically depressed communities.

To learn more about Project Homeless Connect and to see a full list of participating service providers, please go to

Kathryn Bryan is Senior Vice President, Property Management, at PathStone.

Click here to read more…

Lake Ontario Flood Relief Home Repair Program Application

The application period closed Friday, September 29, 2017 at 5:00 PM.

Your supporting documentation, estimates and additional information will continue to be accepted if your application was in by the deadline.

Procedural update.
The legislation providing the Flood Relief funding required that we prioritize situation that pose imminent health and safety risks to the occupants. This includes damage to structure, walls and septic systems. This application will be served before stand-alone shoreline applicants. Stand-alone shoreline damage application will be reviewed and applicants will be contacted if additional information is needed at such time as we are able to serve them. Once you have applied no further action is needed until you are contacted by our staff.

The best way to communicate is via e-mail to
We can respond to at least 10 emails in the time that is spent on one phone call. Please help us help you more efficiently.



It’s Not Too Late to Apply for the Lake Ontario Residential Recovery Program – Deadline Friday September 29th 5pm

It’s Not Too Late to Apply for the Lake Ontario Residential Recovery ProgramDeadline Friday September 29th 5pm

 If You Have Not Yet Applied

  • You still have two weeks to apply, the deadline is 5pm on Friday, September 29th for online or in-hand applications. Applications being mailed in should be postmarked through the 29th.
  •  It is NOT necessary to have supporting documentation available to apply.
  • To be eligible, you must submit the application with just your basic information by 5pm on September 29th, even if you do not yet have estimates or other supporting documentation. 
  • Your supporting documentation and additional information will be accepted after the deadline if your application is submitted by the deadline.
  • Contact us today for questions and help applying.

 If You Have Already Applied

We are working hard to process applications as quickly as possible and no further action is needed now.

For details information on this and other recovery programs, please visit:

Please note that the September 29 deadline is only for those applying for NYS Homes and Community Renewal’s Lake Ontario Residential Recovery Program.  Empire State Development’s deadline for applications from small businesses, farms, not-for-profits, homeowner associations, and owners of multiple dwellings is December 31, 2017.

Register now to take part in the 3rd Annual Pedaling For PathStone event!

September 23rd is quickly approaching! Register now to take part in the 3rd Annual Pedaling For PathStone event! The dollars raised by this fully supported 62-mile, metric century bike ride through the beautiful rural farmlands southwest of Rochester to the Genesee Country Village & Museum will support PathStone Corporation‘s unwavering mission to provide opportunity and self-sufficiency to families living in the Finger Lakes region. We hope you consider supporting by joining us as a rider or sponsor. #PedalingForPathStone

pedaling for PS

Click here to register!


City accepting pre-applications for Owner-Occupant Roofing Program –

City accepting pre-applications for Owner-Occupant Roofing Program

by: WHAM

Rochester, N.Y. – The City of Rochester is now accepting pre-applications for its Owner-Occupant Roofing Program.

The program distributes grants funds which can be used to cover costs of roof, gutter and related repairs. The city says a limited number of homeowners will be selected for the grants in a drawing scheduled for October 3.

 Pre-applications will be accepted through September 28. The process is open to owner-occupants 62 or older who have not previously filed for a pre-application. Applicants must also own a single-family, residential property in the city.

Individuals can check to see if they are already on the application list by visiting their Neighborhood Service Center.

Click here to read more…

Key Bank begins $16.5 billion Community Benefits Plan – –

Key Bank begins $16.5 billion Community Benefits Plan

by: Gino Fanelli

In an effort to better support small businesses, low-income housing and charitable endeavors across the country, Key Bank has pledged $16.5 billion, or approximately 12 percent of the bank’s assets, over the next five years into the National Community Benefits Plan.

The plan, announced in March 2016, is a collaboration with the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, an organization dedicated to injecting capital into underrepresented communities in order to spur economic development, led by an 18-member National Advisory Council announced on Aug. 16. Following the acquisition of First Niagara Bank in 2016, Key Bank pledged $20 million to the First Niagara Foundation, a community reinvestment program focused on education, mentoring, workforce and neighborhood development. The Council met for the first time on Thursday, Aug. 3.

Additionally, of the 18 members of the Key Bank’s National Advisory Council, two are based in Rochester: Hubert Van Tol of community development nonprofit PathStone Enterprise Center and Ruhi Maker of Empire Justice Center. Along with the National Advisory Council, the Plan has established Regional Councils for Western New York, the Great Lakes Region and Albany.

The Community Benefits Plan has invested $1 million over the course of five years, Van Tol said, with $200,000 already invested.

“They also took over First Niagara’s program investment in the Enterprise Center,” Van Tol said. “That is low-interest, long-term loans totaling $1 million in Rochester and half a million in Buffalo, that we in turn use to make loans to small businesses.”

As far as benefiting community through smart investment, Van Tol said his place stands as getting money into the hands of minority-owned businesses.

“We have made a commitment to try and increase the number of small businesses owned by African-Americans and Latinos by at least 15 new businesses per year,” Van Tol said. “We’re getting to that, since December we’ve loaned to 10 African-American businesses in Buffalo that were previously barely starting up. That’s the kind of impact we are focused on.”

The $200,000 awarded from the plan will be placed into staff and capacity building, Van Tol said.

While Van Tol’s focus is primarily on investment into small businesses, the National Community Reinvestment Plan aims to impact the 15 states served by Key Bank through a heavily layered mix of investment. Specifically, of the $16.5 billion, the plan pledges $5 billion to residential mortgage lending, $2.5 billion to small business lending, $8.8 billion to community investment, $3 million to product development aimed at underserved rural and urban communities an $175 million into philanthropy.

In a release from Key Bank, Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney outlined her hopes for the plan’s impact.

“The National Community Benefits plan embodies and amplifies KeyBank’s purpose to help clients and
communities thrive,” Mooney said. “We believe in the power of partnership and accountability as we carry out this mission. The National Advisory Council will ensure that we have both as we move forward.”

This sentiment of partnership and accountability was echoed by president and CEO of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition John Taylor.

“KeyBank’s commitment raised the bar,” Taylor said. “Leadership matters, and when it mattered most Beth Mooney and her team stepped up and delivered for communities. We look forward to a meaningful partnership of mutual accountability as we work together to build stronger communities.”

Key Bank begins $16.5 billion Community Benefits Plan

Military families struggle to find affordable housing – HousingWire –

Military families struggle to find affordable housing

by: Kelsey Ramirez

Affordability is a problem that plagues homebuyers and renters in most areas of the U.S., but the Military community could be some of the worst hit as home prices continue to increase.

Military families don’t get to choose what city they live in, or when they will move there. As a result, they can’t choose an area that is most affordable and meets their family’s needs.

And a surprising majority of them choose not to live on base or even in military privatized housing, according to a study, Military Families and Their Housing Choices, from LMI Government Consulting, conducted on behalf of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In fact, it showed 38% of military members are homeowners, while another 32% rent their home.

The chart below shows the breakdown of military members’ housing choices:

Click to Enlarge

military housing

(Source: LMI)

And now, more military members than ever before are staying in the U.S. as overseas deployment hit its all-time low. A new study from the Pew Research Center showed U.S. military overseas presence is at its lowest point since 1957, the earliest year with comparable data.

The chart below shows even since 2009 and 2010, U.S. military presence overseas dropped off drastically.

Click to Enlarge

military housing

(Source: Pew Research Center)

And as overseas deployment drops, that means more military members are looking for homes in the U.S.

In May last year, a Trulia study found military members at the lower end of the pay scale struggled to find housing options. In some markets such at Fayetteville, Arkansas, or Florida Keys, Florida, up to 90% of the available homes listed would take up 75% of the median local monthly housing stipend.

But from May 2016 to May 2017, home prices increased 5.8%, according to the National Association of Realtors, reaching a new high, and increased even higher through the summer, leaving 70% of the military community which rents or owns homes off the base struggling to find affordable housing.

Click here to read more…