The Hourly Income You Need To Afford Rent Around The U.S. – huffingtonpost.com

The Hourly Income You Need To Afford Rent Around The U.S.

The average full-time minimum wage worker can’t afford rent in ANY state.

New York budget to target homelessness, affordable housing – housingwire.com

New York budget to target homelessness, affordable housing

by: Kelsey Ramirez

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislators failed to meet their April 1 deadline for the state’s budget, but announced their final agreement Friday, which includes $2.5 billion in funds to combat homelessness and affordable housing.

The final budget came in at $153 billion and even has a plan for tuition-free education at state colleges, according to an article by Jesse McKinley and Lisa Foderaro for The New York Times.

San Francisco implemented a similar tuition-free option earlier this year, which could help Millennials with student debt, which may often hinder homeownership. However, click here to read about how a free-tuition option could also restrict affordability.

New York’s budget also dedicated a substantial amount of funds to fight homelessness and increase affordable housing within the state, according to an article by Tanay Warerkar for Curbed.

The funds will help with the state’s plan to create 100,000 new affordable housing units and 6,000 supportive housing units.

From the article:

The budget deal, which still needs to be officially approved by the State Assembly and Senate, has already garnered praise from several housing groups. A coalition of 11 housing groups statewide including the New York State Association for Affordable Housing issued the following statement:

“Today, the Governor, Senate, and Assembly showed true leadership in passing a state budget that made low-income New Yorkers a priority and finally allocated $2.5 billion in housing funds. The commitment made today will profoundly impact the lives of thousands of New Yorkers, including 88,000 people currently homeless throughout the state and nearly one million households paying more than half their income in rent each month.”

Click here to read more…

A new kitchen for less than $7,000 and other ways to remodel your home on the cheap

A new kitchen for less than $7,000 and other ways to remodel your home on the cheap

by: Mary Chao

It’s a seller’s market.

Inventory is tight and multiple offers abound for homes in good condition. Yet despite low inventory and competitive situations, buyers are still opting for homes in tip-top shape so they don’t have to fix them up.

If you’re a buyer, there’s a better way. You can buy a cosmetically challenged home and make it your own, even if you’re not handy and don’t want to spend a lot of cash.

My husband and I own three properties. We have always purchased homes that are not pretty but are structurally sound at the near bottom of the market. Both of us work full time and neither of us is handy, which means we outsource the labor.

Our tenants for our single-family brick ranch home in Brighton recently left after eight and a half years, having rented the home since we purchased it after the market crash of 2008. That gave us an opportunity to fix up the home and get it ready for new tenants.

We decided it was time for the 1950s kitchen to go. We were able to put in a new galley kitchen for only $7,000, including new cabinetry, appliances and labor.

Other upgrades included new hardwood-like laminate flooring throughout the home, new fixtures, bathtub painting and fresh paint. The total cost of the entire 1,054-square-foot remodel that breathed new life into the home was less than $13,000.

Here are some of my tips on how you can buy your dream home in your dream neighborhood and fix it up to your liking on a budget.

Click here to read the full story…

City and Irondequoit get grants to combat zombie properties – rbj.net

City and Irondequoit get grants to combat zombie properties

by: Velvet Spicer

The City of Rochester and the Town of Irondequoit are two of 18 cities and towns statewide that will receive grants to address and transform zombie properties.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday announced the winners of the first phase of the Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement grant awards. The investment will total more than $10 million over the next two years.

The program aims to innovatively address and transform blighted, vacant or poorly maintained problem properties through the use of housing and community data from various state agencies. Cities RISE was launched in April as a strategy for helping New York families and communities rebuild from the housing crisis.

The funds will come from settlements made with large financial institutions that contributed to the collapse of the housing market, officials said.

“Too many New Yorkers are still struggling in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis. That’s why my office is investing the dollars we secured from the banks, to provide the tools necessary to rebuild and strengthen our neighborhoods,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Cities RISE presents a 21st century approach to overcoming this crisis and revitalizing New York’s communities.”

The 18 communities were chosen by national community development nonprofits Enterprise Community Partners and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. Each community will receive a two-year subscription to a data platform designed to integrate and analyze data such as code enforcement records, tax liens and fire and police data.

In addition, grantees will receive capacity building support from Spruce Technology and the program will be guided by a senior advisory team of issue area experts who specialize in community revitalization and engagement.

“The Building Blocks software will be a valuable tool in our ongoing efforts to make government more transparent,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said. “Using this software, individuals will be able to get detailed information about properties, particularly vacant properties, in the city. I am thankful to the attorney general for his advocacy on behalf of our citizens, which helps us in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

Click here to read more…

‘JUSTICE SYSTEM’ The Laws Cities Use To Make Homelessness a Crime. A new law gives police new power and wide discretion to arrest the most vulnerable.

‘JUSTICE SYSTEM’ The Laws Cities Use To Make Homelessness a Crime A new law gives police new power and wide discretion to arrest the most vulnerable.

By: Liz Wolfe

There’s nothing shocking, really, about Houston’s new law making it easier for homeless people to be arrested simply for being homeless.

Not when over 100 American cities have effectively criminalized everyday life for the homeless, making crimes of things from sleeping outside to brushing teeth in public. Even as cities become more socially conscious about LGBTQ rights and drug policies, they’ve become less tolerant of their neediest inhabitants and more comfortable with cops and the justice system sweeping up the human trash, as it were.

City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be

For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.

In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles. For extreme sports junkies (like Yosemite climbers who try to live in their cars), this is an inconvenience. For the homeless, it leaves no alternatives, especially if shelters are too far, too full, or too violent (a common problem). For some people, the choice might be between living in a car or sleeping outside—but what if both are criminalized?

This situation is playing out before our averted eyes in Dallas. The police issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015. That’s about 323 citations per month, or around ten per day. These citations generally come with fines, and failure to pay (which is to be expected, given that these people are homeless) comes with worse legal trouble, often snowballing into jail time.

 Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).

City officials in Houston claim tent cities make it easy to hide illicit activity. If by “illicit activity,” they mean drug use, then sure. But as we’ve learned through the embarrassing failures of the drug war, drug use isn’t always as bad as we think and it certainly isn’t improved by greater criminalization efforts. Tent cities are often formed to provide some degree of protection from the elements—not just a haven for drug use.

Mayor Turner says he’s pairing the ban on tents with a bid to increase the number of shelter beds, and that a new police policy will prioritize issuing warnings and attempting to take violators to receive medical treatment, if needed.

All of this would be good if true, but what the new law really does is give police new power and wide discretion to arrest the vulnerable. As with many marginalized groups—including drug users, sex workers and undocumented immigrants—this means the homeless will increasingly fear the police instead of being able to rely on them for help.

Worst of all, is there anything logical about saddling homeless people with jail time?

Click here to read more…

Lake Ontario Flood Recovery

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 floodrelief@pathstone.org. 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.

Helping Homeowners and Municipalities Recover from Flood Damage along the Lake Ontario Coastline – Updated

To expedite repairs and the construction of shoreline stabilization projects, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency on May 2, 2017 in counties impacted by spring flooding along the Lake Ontario Coastline: Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne.

To aid in relief and recovery efforts, New York State is providing $22 million in assistance for homeowners, businesses and municipalities. From restoring roads, floodwalls and public water infrastructure to assisting small businesses with physical damage to providing New Yorkers with the help they need to repair their homes, these targeted programs are delivering relief to New York families across the entire Lake Ontario region.

$7 Million Available for Homeowners Impacted by Flooding

New York State Homes and Community Renewal will make available up to $7 million in state funding for homeowners along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in the aftermath of the extreme weather and severe flooding in the region. The new investment program will provide up to $40,000 for homeowners to support interior and exterior repairs to structural damage caused by flooding, as well as the repair or replacement of permanent fixtures.

For more information about eligibility and program parameters, read the Lake Ontario Home Owner Recovery Assistance Program Fact Sheet.

TO APPLY:

For Homeowners:

Download the application HERE.

The program will be administered through not-for profit housing organizations seeking to help homeowners affected by the flooding. Homeowners seeking assistance are encouraged to contact the not-for-profit organizations that have already expressed interest in serving as program participants to determine eligibility and ask questions about the program. Those organizations are listed below, along with their contact information and the areas they intend to serve:

Cayuga, Monroe and Wayne Counties

Sheen Housing
www.sheenhousing.org
sheen2@rochester.rr.com
585-657-4114

Orleans County

Pathstone
www.thehousingcouncil.org
floodrelief@pathstone.org
585-546-3700

Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence Counties

Neighbors Of Watertown, Inc.
www.neighborsofwatertown.com
Floodinfo@neighborsofwatertown.com
315-782-8497

Niagara County

Niagara Falls Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
www.niagarfallsnhs.org
nfnhs@nfnhs.org
716-285-7778

Homeowners may also contact the HCR Office of Community Renewal to express interest by contacting LakeOntario@nyshcr.org or calling 518-474-2057.

** We do not have any information at this time on the pending additional $90 MM for flood victims. We will share information as it becomes available, thank you for your patience. **

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

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 floodrelief@pathstone.org. 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.

 

Deadline approaches for national flood insurance program – Democrat & Chronicle

Deadline approaches for national flood insurance program

by: Herb Jackson and Nicole Gaudiano

WASHINGTON — Home sales in New York and other coastal states could begin to decline this summer in areas prone to flooding as Congress considers dramatic changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Congress has until September 30 to renew the program, but disagreements remain over how much homeowners should be forced to pay for flood insurance to make the debt-ridden program more solvent.

Buyers and sellers of real estate in floodplains could start to see an impact as early as July, said Mike Kelly, director of government affairs for the New York State Association of Realtors. Absent congressional action, the National Association of Realtors estimates 1,300 home sales nationwide could be delayed or lost each day that the program fails to be reauthorized.

“It isn’t the drop deadline date when everything comes to a standstill,” Kelly said. “Things start to grind to a halt much earlier. Even before September, we’re going to see pending home sales and home purchases begin to slow because of that ambiguity of, ‘Will the program be authorized or not?’”

Created in 1968, when the private insurance industry largely stopped covering floods, the national program tried to get property owners in flood zones to pay premiums that could be pooled to cover disasters and fund mitigation programs and mapping to spur smarter land development.

Despite bipartisan support, action to renew the law has slowed this spring, and while Sept. 30 may seem a long way off, Congress is only due to be in session about a month and a half worth of legislative days before the law expires.

A bipartisan group of senators proposed an overhaul of the program on Tuesday that would cap premium increases, use advanced radar to make more accurate flood maps, and offer some homeowners vouchers to pay for coverage and loans to elevate buildings.

The bill, sponsored by senators on two key committees and from states that rely heavily on the program, is one of several proposals pending this year for a program that insures 5 million homes and businesses, including 184,000 in New York, but cannot repay nearly $25 billion borrowed from the treasury to respond to catastrophic storms, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“Americans deserve a flood insurance program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said at a news conference. Led by Menendez and Louisiana Republican John Kennedy the group also includes Republicans Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrats Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Menendez, Kennedy, Warren and Van Hollen all serve on the Senate’s banking committee, which is responsible for writing the new bill. Cochran is chairman of the appropriations committee, which funds disaster relief, and Rubio and Kennedy are members of the committee.

Click here to read the full story…

‘Isolated and depressed’: One woman’s life-changing story of Sojourner House – Democrat & Chronicle

‘Isolated and depressed’: One woman’s life-changing story of Sojourner House

by: Caurie Putnam

So much has changed in LaRhonda Harris’ life in a year.

“I was isolated and depressed,” said Harris, 27, recalling life at this time last year.  “My daughter and I were not in a good situation. Where we were living at wasn’t good at all.”

On Aug. 22, 2016, Harris had enough of living in an unhealthy environment.

With a suitcase and her two-year old daughter she showed up at Sojourner House at PathStone seeking safe shelter.  She received that and more.

“They brought the light back out in me,” said Harris, about the staff at Sojourner House – a Rochester nonprofit that provides women and children who are homeless or in crisis with housing and educational programs.

“I went to weekly groups – domestic violence groups and women’s groups.  They taught me how to never look back and how to be a stronger person,” she added.

Harris is now looking for a job and has her own apartment at Wilson Commencement Park (which became a PathStone Corporation agency in 2016).

“I feel happier than I ever did in my life,” she said.  “My home is so beautiful; I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

Harris’ story is one of countless success stories in the 35-year history of Sojourner House and one of the reasons the nonprofit is celebrating that milestone on June 16 at their Gala for Strength.

“We have hundreds of success stories of women leaving Sojourner House with their life back on track and that is because of the committed staff and incredible support that the Rochester community has shown us,” said Seanelle (Tracy) Hawkins, EdD., executive director of Sojourner House at PathStone and Wilson Commencement Park.  “The gala is our opportunity to thank our supporters and celebrate our successes.”

The gala is also a way to close a gap that remains in Sojourner House’s budget after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a $227,000 cut to Sojourner House and $142,000 cut to Wilson Commencement Park in the spring of 2016.

“It looked like doom and gloom for Sojourner House,” said Hawkins, about when the cuts first happened.  “We were devastated.”

Hawkins and the board of directors created a program redesign taskforce that streamlined services among PathStone agencies and acquired significant donations by the community and the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation.  All that remains, now, is a $35,000 gap Hawkins hopes the gala will close.

“We wrote letters to the community and checks poured in,” Hawkins said.  “It was powerful for us to learn just how much we mean to the community.”

Hawkins compared the community support over the past year to the support the organization received in the late 1980s when (on Aug. 25, 1987) the interior of Sojourner House’s original location on East Main Street was destroyed by a resident’s former abusive partner in an arson attack.

In 1989, Sojourner House officially reopened its doors in the former convent of St. Monica’s Church on Millbank St. (where it remains today).

“The community rallied around us then and three decades later the community has come back again to help celebrate Sojourner House,” Hawkins said.  “Thirty years later the community recognizes the value Sojourner House brings to the community.  We’re such a beacon of hope for women and children in need.”

Click here for the full story…