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Work begins on 100th Habitat for Humanity house in JOSANA neighborhood

James Brown
Workers assemble the frame of a 1,500-square-foot Habitat for Humanity home, in Rochester's JOSANA neighborhood in 2021.

The goal was huge: 100 houses, built from scratch, all within a half-mile of Enrico Fermi School 17. It took 10 years, but on Tuesday, Flower City Habitat for Humanity began work on house No. 100. 

In his six years as the organization’s CEO, Matt Flanigan said he watched the house that used to sit at 757 Jay St. fall into disrepair. He hoped to get the chance to build it anew.

“In part because within a two-minute walk either way you point me, we're going to walk around and touch 12 houses that we built near here,” said Flanigan. 

He said the JOSANA neighborhood, one of Rochester’s poorest, badly needs it. A decade ago, the group made a pledge to the city of Rochester, the nearby Charles Settlement House and School 17 to invest in the area, turning blight into community. He said all 100 houses were built on land where abandoned, decaying houses once sat. 

Natasha G., who asked us not to use her last name, is buying the house. She works in manufacturing and lives with her son and daughter in a two-bedroom apartment. Natasha said homeownership didn’t seem possible for her. She plans to keep it a secret for now.

“I'm not going to bring them until the house is actually decorated inside, and then I'm just going to act like I'm giving them a tour of somebody's house and really show them that it’s our house,” she said. 

She said she intends to give each child their own room, giving her son’s room a Sonic the Hedgehog theme.

The house is expected to be finished within six months.

Flower City Habitat for Humanity plans to focus on the EMMA (East Main Merchants Atlantic) neighborhood area next.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.