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“Buy the Block” Program Provides Access to New Built Single-Family Homes Through City Partnerships

Staff Report

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.

The City of Rochester is hoping to encourage homeownership and uplift formerly redlined neighborhoods with its “Buy The Block – Greenlining for a Better Rochester” program.

“The Buy the Block program is about equity,” Mayor Malik Evans said. “It’s about righting the wrongs of decades of housing discrimination by turning redlined areas in the city into “green lined” opportunities, where Black and Brown families can accumulate wealth through homeownership and create a prosperous future for generations to come.

City Council approval is the next step in the recommendation and will be addressed next month around May 10th. 

The “Buy The Block” program is subsidized by $13.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The first phase of the program will begin in the city’s Northeast quadrant between Clifford, Clinton, Hudson Avenues and Upper Falls Boulevard. 

There are three distinct initiatives of the program:

  • Building new, single-family, high-quality homes for qualified city residents to purchase with affordable mortgages;
  • Assisting homeowners in the neighborhood, through grants and free consultation, to implement home improvements including roofing and exterior façade repairs on existing properties; and
  • Supporting owners of mixed-use properties in the neighborhood, including buildings with first-floor retail and upper housing units, to make similar exterior improvements.

The timeline of the project will span from 2022 through 2024.  In the first phase the City will spearhead the building 6 to 24 single-family new homes, high-quality homes on vacant, City-owned lots.  

“I am truly grateful for the continued support of our government partner Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Joseph Morelle so we can provide affordable and adequate housing to city families.

The City has selected the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership as the developer to work in conjunction with Atlas Contractors, LLC, Ibero American Development Corporation and Howard Hanna’s Garcia Team to construct up to 24 single-family homes on vacant city-owned parcels for the program. 

Buyers will have the opportunity to choose from six model homes to meet the needs of their households.  The overall goal of the program is to build 100 homes in under-invested areas of the City.

Additional timeline activity:

  • Summer 2022 – application process opens
  • Fall 2022 – completion of six model homes
  • 2023 – building of up to 18 additional homes for qualified homebuyers

Sales prices for the homes are estimated to range from $89,000 – $139,000.  To assist in the purchase the housing costs are on a sliding scale so that the buyer spends no more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

There are requirements to be eligible for the Buy The Block program:

  • Homebuyer will select one of the model home designs and property location
  • Must be at or below 60-80% of the Median Family Income (MFI)
  • Will be required to live in their new home for at least 10 years

About the home buying application process:

  • Program will begin in late 2022
  • The City will confirm eligibility and enroll all qualified applicants into a random selection lottery
  • Selected homebuyers will be automatically entered into the city’s Home Purchase Assistance Program, which will provide them with a $3,000 grant to cover down payment and closing costs

To learn more about Buy the Block or home improvement support, visit www.cityofrocheter.gov/BuytheBlock/.