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Mayor Evans announces Housing Quality Task Force

City Councilmember Malik Evans is looking to unseat Mayor Lovely Warren in 2021.City Councilmember Malik Evans is looking to unseat Mayor Lovely Warren in 2021.
Jacob Walsh
File Photo: Mayor Malik Evans before he became Rochester's mayor.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans has announced a new Housing Quality Task Force as part of his neighborhood improvement initiative.

The 21-member task force consists of housing advocates, providers, city officials and non-profit leaders who will work on policy recommendations and programs to improve housing for Rochester residents.

On Tuesday, Evans called the members some of the area's brightest minds and said the goal is to develop long-lasting solutions within 90 days.

"One of the things that we wanted to do is bring all the minds of folks who have a stake in housing, which is basically just about everyone in Rochester,” Evans said.

Liz McGriff with the City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester will serve on the task force.

The group has called on Evans and the City Council to pass a Good Cause Eviction Law. The law protects tenants against retaliatory evictions and prevents landlords from starting an eviction without a valid occupancy certificate.

McGriff said that many landlords have successfully evicted tenants without having a certificate of occupancy and hopes serving on the task force will be a good start to developing protections for tenants in the future.

"A lot of people don't want to lose their housing. Even if it's bad housing, they don't want to lose it because it leads them to homelessness. And it takes a long time to recover from that,” McGriff said.

Aqua Porter, executive director of the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative, and Carol Wheeler, Rochester's manager of housing, will serve as task force co-chairs.

Evans said Rochester has done some good work to improve affordable housing, but it still has a long way to go.

He said, "The pandemic has really exacerbated the challenges that we have in our community for folks. So we want to make sure that we address those with creative solutions, with resources, but more importantly, by trying to get people to work together."

April Franklin is an occasional local host of WXXI's Weekend Edition.