Housing First Trust Fund aims to increase homeownership, rental assistance in Rochester

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released part two of her 2021 State of the City Thursday, focusing on the creation of a “Housing First Trust Fund” with goals of increasing homeownership for city residents and providing enhanced renter assistance.

“While Housing First has traditionally referred to helping our homeless, I believe that a safe, affordable and sustainable home is the first, and most critical step to achieving equity for all. Hence, the Housing First Trust Fund,” said Mayor Warren. “If we want Rochester’s families and children to be successful in their careers and education, then they must first have the security that a home provides. Lifting people up starts with ensuring they have a place to call home.”

MORE | Mayor Warren introduces Equity & Recovery Agenda in first part of State of the City Address

According to city officials, the Housing First Trust Fund would be a “dedicated revenue source to fund efforts to improve residents’ access to stable, affordable and quality housing,” with a number of potential goals of:

  • Provide funding to the Rochester Land Bank to acquire higher-quality properties for owner occupancy programs
  • Work with the renters of two-family homes to help them acquire the property, become owners and accelerate their financial growth to stabilize city neighborhoods
  • Allow the Land Bank to offer properties directly to residents seeking to buy a home without them having to competitively bid against investors
  • Provide new owner-occupants with $24,999 rehabilitation grants, as well as financial literacy and financial planning assistance to ensure long-term stability and wealth building
  • Strengthen neighborhoods by offering any city-owned tax lien acquisitions via lottery for one dollar to residents on the same street. This would allow homeowners to build wealth and strengthen stability of city neighborhoods. Owners of these properties would be eligible for rehabilitation grants and other services to ensure the creation of safe and affordable rental properties
  • Expand emergency-based debt and rent relief to qualifying residents. This will help prevent evictions and foreclosures and stop temporary financial crises from becoming negatively life-altering events
  • Reduce owner and tenant utility costs by making energy efficiency improvements in newly constructed or renovated housing for low-income residents
  • Fund supportive services within housing court to help families overcome problems related to eviction

City officials say efforts to fully define the initiatives of the Housing First Trust Fund, and sources of funding, are ongoing.

“A Housing Trust Fund will help Rochester’s residents achieve equity and fairness by creating more jobs; safer, more vibrant neighborhoods and greater educational opportunities,” said Mayor Warren. “I look forward to working with our City Council and our local State Legislature delegation to make the trust fund a reality.”

The State of the City video series highlighting Mayor Warren’s Equity and Recovery Agenda will continue next month with an episode highlighting jobs and economic development.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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