Neighborhoods And Housing

A Mayor must do more than include the slogan “create safer and more vibrant neighborhoods” in every City press release.  Rochester’s neighborhoods are our lifeblood.  I pledge a Neighborhoods First agenda.

 
 
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Where We Are:

Lovely Warren pledged a renewed focus on Rochester's neighborhoods when she ran for Mayor in 2013.  She said that poor neighborhoods, especially in the city's Northeast, were being shortchanged. What has changed in 3½ years? Very little. Housing foreclosures and vacancies are up. In fact, the City of Rochester has the lowest homeownership rate in the region, and its median home value has dropped 10 percent since 2010. The message many of our city's residents receive is that the American Dream is not for them. Our neighborhood associations have felt so isolated from City Hall that more than half have banded together in hopes that their joint voices will be heard.

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Our Path Forward:

My Neighborhoods First agenda will focus on our citizens. By getting back to grassroots community planning, we can work together to ensure everyone has a seat at the table to improve our community. 

 

Neighborhoods First Agenda

  • Many Neighbors Building Neighborhoods.  We will revive Mayor Bill Johnson’s NBN program and adapt it to meet the needs of 21st century neighborhoods. We will develop the program after conducting neighborhood surveys and focus groups to better understand neighborhood priorities, but at the very least, we will return to a neighborhood-focused structure that will emphasize grassroots organizing, planning, leadership development, communication and cooperation.
     
  • Developing Neighborhood Leadership.  We will create a Neighborhood Leadership Academy to increase the number of citizens with the skills necessary to serve in various leadership positions in neighborhood associations, on city boards and commissions, on PAC-TAC, etc.  It will also be a great opportunity to educate residents on important local issues such as land use, zoning and infrastructure.
     
  • Supporting Neighborhood Priorities.  We will use the Citizen Budgeting model to provide funding for neighborhood projects from beautification to minor infrastructure upgrades and quality of life improvements.  They’re your tax dollars – you should have a say in how they’re spent.
     
  • Taking it to The Streets.  We will bring back Mayor Duffy’s “City Hall on the Road,” so that my senior staff and I will have the regular opportunity to meet with residents and merchants in their own neighborhoods. City Hall on the Road underscores a commitment to customer service by providing constituents a convenient opportunity to make suggestions or talk about issues after work hours and in their neighborhoods. I will also reinstitute regular meetings with neighborhood association presidents to provide a regular and constructive forum for dialogue about issues impacting neighborhoods and a place to exchange best practices and recognize neighborhood organizations for their good work.
     
  • Downtown Is a Neighborhood!  Downtown is a special place, with its unique mix of residents, businesses and visitors to our retail and entertainment districts.  From High Falls to the St. Paul Quarter to the Upper and Lower East Ends, we need to make sure we are meeting the unique needs of all of our Downtown customers, no matter their economic means.  We will fold Downtown into our Neighborhoods First agenda to ensure that we are listening, planning and investing with all stakeholders in mind.
     
  • Providing Choices.  Rochester will be a community that meets the needs of our residents at all stages of their lives. My vision for our future includes neighborhoods that allow people to safely walk or use easily accessible public transportation to get to stores, restaurants, parks, medical care and other services. Not having to rely on cars is particularly important to seniors and people with disabilities.
     
  • Rochester Welcomes:  Rochester is home to more than 5,000 refugees who have escaped war-torn countries to seek a better life.  We will build on successful models from other communities that help refugees make a successful transition to American society and allow them to make significant contributions to the Rochester community and our economy.
A man is called selfish not for pursing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor’s.
— Richard Whately

Safe And Healthy Housing

We can't revitalize our neighborhoods without safe and healthy housing, and we know it is also critical to family stability and children's health and success at school. We need to support homeowners by:

  • Implement Clean Sweep 2.0.  My "Restore Rochester" program will bring residents, non-profits and volunteers from the building and construction trades together to do home improvement projects. Working alongside professionals, homeowners without the means or skills, can fix up their houses and contribute to the beautification of their street.
     
  • Affordable Housing.  Identify additional ways to make home ownership affordable for city residents by working with banks and expanding the number of local employers interested in promoting city living for their employees.
     
  • Affordable Housing Projects.  Aggressively pursue affordable housing projects. Under Mayor Warren, the number of funding applications to the State Department of Housing & Community Renewal has decreased, leaving us with fewer opportunities to provide affordable housing to families who need it.

Reduce Vacant And Abandoned Housing

We will adopt the recommendations of Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello's Task Force and do everything we can to prevent vacancies before they happen. Our strategies will include:

  • Act on Abandoned Housing.  Outreach targeted specifically at homeowners in the early stages of mortgage default to help them get back on sound financial footing.
     
  • Expand Foreclosure Prevention Services.  Including legal services and housing counseling.
     
  • Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry.  Advocate for the New York State Department of Financial Services to design and implement a new statewide Vacant and Abandoned Property Registry so that we can track property owners and hold them accountable.
     
  • Aggressively Pursue Abandonment Actions Against Vacant Properties that have serious zoning, housing, building or property maintenance code violations for more than a year so that we can get them back to good use.
     
  • Establish A Comprehensive Rental Strategy. Like it or not, more than half of the City properties are rentals. It is short-sighted and unproductive to deal with landlords in a haphazard and largely punitive way. We will develop a rental strategy that includes how to support good landlords and help them to improve their properties while holding irresponsible owners accountable. This can include:
     
    • Shelter Program: Advocating for a shelter supplement program in Monroe County to better align the public assistance shelter allowance with Fair Market Rents
       
    • Housing Workshops for Landlords. Requiring new landlords who purchase property for investment and rental purposes to attend a workshop at a local HUD-approved housing counseling agency
       
    • Housing Court: Working with Rochester City Court Judges to establish a Housing Court that will close the gaps in the code enforcement process, streamline evictions and address tenant complaints.

Together We Can

A Mayor must do more than include the slogan “create safer and more vibrant neighborhoods” in every City press release.  Rochester’s neighborhoods are our lifeblood.  I pledge a Neighborhoods First agenda.

If you care about our neighborhoods like I do, add your name to support my neighborhoods and housing plan.

Spread The Word

It takes passion, energy, ideas and healthy dialogue to make change; and I know that many of you are aching for change.

I promise that I will deliver that change – but I cannot do it without your help. If you like what I have to say and what I stand for, please help me right now by sharing my plan for neighborhoods and housing.