Lease-to-own home ownership: New affordable housing project in Rochester

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and President of the Urban League of Rochester Dr. Seanelle Hawkins announced a new affordable housing project in Rochester called L2P Westside

According to the Urban League of Rochester Economic Development Corporation, the project is the first of its kind in Rochester, and in New York State.

“This was a difficult project,” Warren said. “It’s hard to be the first and to have a great partner like the Urban League of Rochester Economic Development Corporation to work along side Rochester to build what we call generational wealth. We know generational wealth is built through homeownership and many people and many families don’t have the opportunity to own their own home because they don’t have income, they cannot get credit in line, but what this project does is give people an opportunity to lease to own and I’m thankful to L2P for allowing our families in the City of Rochester to have this great opportunity.”

L2P Westside will consist of 41 single-family houses for rent. The homes will transition to homeownership after the initial 15-year rental compliance period. In year-16, the tenant may purchase the home, provided they meet eligibility requirements, including completion of financial counseling and home maintenance training. The equity from tax credits that was applied to the cost of construction is transferred to the homeowner when the house is sold at a substantially discounted price, which results in payments comparable to the rental amount.

“The idea that someone could eventually become a homeowner while paying affordable rent was exciting and unique and that’s what this project is,” Dr. Hawkins said.

This program, based on a model successfully pioneered by CHN Housing Partners, a nonprofit housing agency in Cleveland Ohio, creates wealth and net worth for the residents.  

State financing for the $13 million project includes federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from New York State Homes and Community Renewal that will generate $11.4 million in equity, and nearly $70,000 from NYSERDA’s Low Rise New Construction Program.

“The homes are energy efficient, they compliment the neighborhoods, they have front porches, sheds, laundry hook-up and off-street parking,” Dr. Hawkins said. “There are 34 three-bedroom homes and they’re two stories, wood frame, vinyl siding — they’re absolutely beautiful with full basements and they are about 1,200 square feet.”

“We’re going to make sure we continue building affordable housing in the City of Rochester,” Warren said. “This is about making sure that families not only have a place to live, but a place to raise their families and to pass on generational wealth for generations to come. This is a project that we know was difficult from the very beginning, but one we knew that we could complete.”

Additional financing was provided by Leviticus Fund, Rochester Land Bank and ESL.

Officials toured some of the new properties following Monday morning’s press conference on Elgin Street. Similar developments are planned for other vacant city-owned lots on the city’s west side.

Watch the full press conference

L2P Westside application


This is a developing story. News 8 WROC will provide updates as they become available.

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