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Urban League of Rochester creates new path to homeownership

April Franklin
Seanelle Hawkins, president of Urban league of Rochester announces L2P Westside project at home on Elgin Street in Rochester

 A new housing project by the Urban League of Rochester will help low-income renters become homeowners. L2P Westside is the first development of the project, consisting of 41 brand new homes on Rochester’s Southwest side. 

The way the program works is that eligible tenants making below 60% of the median income in the city of Rochester can rent a single-family home, with the option of purchasing the home after 15 years.

It’s based on a model from the Cleveland Housing Network which partnered with Urban League of Rochester to bring it to New York State. 

“They have over 2,000 units and it was something that we wanted to bring to New York State for some time,” said Seanelle Hawkins, president of the Urban league of Rochester.

There are 34 three-bedroom, two-story homes and seven two-bedroom homes in the neighborhood and are built to be energy efficient and meet accessibility requirements.

Hawkins explained that tenants will get financial counseling and home maintenance training while living in the homes. When it comes time to purchase the home, mortgages will be around the same cost of the rent. 

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says the project offers opportunities for people to build generational wealth.

“We know that generational wealth is built through home ownership,” Warren said. “ Many people in many families don't have the opportunity to own their own home because they don't have the income and they cannot get their credit in line.”

A home means safety and stability for Sara Sheppard. The mother of three, and Georgia native has lived in Rochester for 10 years. She moved into one of the handful of homes already built in the development..

“I just went through the process and now we have a brand new home that can set our roots in Rochester for good,” Sheppard said, adding that she’s looking forward to decorating her new home and turning on her air conditioner.

“Central air and heat, I love it, I miss it. They don't have that, much, in New York,” said Sheppard.

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