Program Aims to Build 100 New, Single Family Homes on City-Owned Vacant Lots
The development of six new model homes on Thomas and Weeger Streets, has kicked off for the first phase of the City’s “Buy the Block – Greenlining for a Better Rochester” program, Mayor Malik D. Evans was recently joined by officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and project partners to break ground.
The Buy the Block program aims to uplift and strengthen city neighborhoods by building up to 100 high-quality, affordable, single-family homes on City-owned, vacant properties. The initial phase has begun in Northeast Rochester between Upper Falls Boulevard and Clinton, Clifford, and Hudson Avenues.
“Today, we are making tangible investments in neighborhoods suffering from the long-lasting effects of redlining,” said Mayor Evans. “Buy the Block is about creating equity. It’s about reversing the harmful effects of housing discrimination by providing Black and Brown residents greater access to quality and affordable homes so that they can build wealth for their families. I am grateful for our government partners, U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Representative Joseph Morelle for their continued support in enabling families to experience homeownership.”
Project partners include the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership (GRHP), Atlas Contractors, and Ibero American Development Corporation. Eligible homebuyers will be able to choose from a diverse selection of floor plans which range from ranch-style homes that accommodate aging in place or those with special needs to three- and four-bedroom, two-story homes designed for larger households and those with children.
Senator Schumer said he fought to include funding for local governments in the American Rescue Plan, because he not only wanted to see communities like Rochester recover but also to thrive for years to come. “I applaud Mayor Evans and City Council for using these funds for the Buy the Block Program to ensure that families can own high-quality, affordable homes, and to undo the legacy of housing discrimination while creating stability in historically underserved neighborhoods.”
The Buy The Block application process is now open. Applicants must be first-time homebuyers with a household income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income. Qualified prospective homebuyers who apply before November 15 will be included in a lottery to be eligible to purchase one of the model homes in spring 2023.
The homes range in price from $89,000 – $139,000. The cost is on a sliding scale so a buyer would spend no more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Buyers will be required to live in the home for a minimum of 15 years.
“Wealth building and righting historical wrongs are two of HUD’s highest priorities, and Rochester’s Buy the Block Initiative is doing that by providing homeownership opportunities to low-income families and building in formerly redlined neighborhoods,” said Alicka Ampry-Samuel, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. “I look forward to witnessing Rochester’s increase in housing production and proving that lifting our residents benefits us all.”
Buy the Block is supported by $13.3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.
Congressman Joseph Morelle said greenlining programs like Buy the Block are critical tools to build a more equitable and inclusive community.
“This transformative program is about so much more than just housing,” he said. “…it’s providing families with hope, opportunity, and the promise of a brighter future.”
To learn more about the Buy the Block program, buyer eligibility, and the application process, visit www.cityofrochester/BuytheBlock.