Facebook | City-Wide Tenant Union of Rochester, NY


The Rochester City-Wide Tenant Union is calling on New York state and local governments to cancel rent and mortgages because of the current public health crisis. 

The group is asking for unpaid rent or mortgage payments to be forgiven for up to 90 days after the state of emergency is lifted.  

“Part of our demand around cancelled rent is to put more protections in to really prevent homelessness occurring as this crisis continues to develop,” said Allie Detinger, who is with the Tenant Union.

The latest quarterly survey from the Greater Rochester Association of Realtors shows a sharp drop in local home sales, a downturn that the association expected as the effects of the coronavirus were felt starting in March.

Sales of existing homes for the entire region fell about 21% compared to a year ago. In Monroe County, sales were down 9.6%.  However the median sale price of home in the region was up around 8% compared to a year ago.

In a span of just two days, New York state went from partially lifting a pandemic-spurred restriction on showing homes in person to reinstating it once again.

On Wednesday, the Empire State Development agency said many real estate-related functions are "essential" and allowed one-on-one home showings. By Thursday night, though, the agency said those showings can be "virtual" only.

Rochester Housing Authority

The Rochester Housing Authority says that its public housing waiting list applications will now be accepted online at www.rochesterhousing.org/apply.

Public Housing is a program in which qualifying applicants live in a unit owned and operated by the RHA.

Applications for the Public Housing Waiting List can be submitted at any time, since the waiting list for this program remains open throughout the year.

Rochester City Court has a new housing section. Now, tenants can bring small claims actions against landlords to be heard by a judge.

We talk about how the system will work, and we hear from a local tenant and a local landlord who share their perspectives and concerns. In studio:

The New York Times asks a provocative question: why are people so unhappy in some of the most ostensibly booming American places? For example, California has a strong economy and low relative unemployment. But the high cost of housing has increased commute times, and traffic is a nightmare. The state is vulnerable to the effects of climate change. What can be done?

These are complicated questions, but we focus on one particular aspect: housing and commutes. Why is housing so expensive in some places, but not others? What are the lessons for New York State? Our guests sort it out:

  • Matthew Denker, developer with LBLD Living
  • Andrew Brady, co-founder of the Rochester chapter of Conscious Capitalism
  • Robert Frank, author, economics columnist, and professor at Cornell University

The Town of Pittsford is preparing for an election, and it’s embroiled in a debate over segregation and housing policy. We invited candidates from both parties, as well as town leaders who are on opposing sides of the housing dispute. Our guests are the only ones who replied to our multiples requests for interviews.

In studio:

Can building new, high-end housing units help increase the supply of affordable housing? A new working paper says it can. Economist Evan Mast of the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research studied the effect that luxury housing construction had on relieving pressure on rents across the housing market. His research shows that when a household moves into a new, more expensive unit, it creates a so-called musical chair effect, vacating an existing unit at a lower price point. The chain-like effect continues down the line until it reaches a city’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Mast says this increases the supply of affordable housing. Critics of the research say building more high-end housing in already wealthy neighborhoods increases segregation in cities.

So what could happen in Rochester? The question comes as local developers build new high-end apartments across the city. This hour, our panel discusses the research and the possible impact of luxury housing on the local community. Our guests:

We continue our series of conversations about the issues and policies that will generate debate and conversations in advance of the 2020 election. This hour, we discuss housing policy in America.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is proposing legislation entitled the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. It would address housing segregation, affordability, zoning laws, and more. The plan would pour half a trillion dollars into affordable housing programs over a decade, and would be funded, in part, by raising the estate tax.

This hour, our guests discuss the details of the proposal and if they think it would be effective. In studio:

  • Nana-Yaw Andoh, assistant professor of architecture at RIT
  • Matthew Denker, developer with LBLD Living

Fiscal Policy Institute

A recent study by the nonpartisan Fiscal Policy Institute says nearly half of New York renters are “rent-burdened.”

Ron Deutsch, the group’s executive director, said housing – not including utilities – should cost about 30% of your income. Anything more is considered a rent burden.

“There’s a housing crisis going on right now,” said Deutsch. “Because far too many people are paying excessive amounts of their income in rent.”