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.”

We continue our series of conversations about urbanism in Rochester with participants in the Community Design Center’s Reshaping Rochester program.

Klaus Philipsen is the president of ArchPlan, an architecture and urban design firm in Baltimore. He joins us for a discussion about affordable housing – what it looks like and how to achieve it in a city like Rochester. We also discuss how to revitalize neighborhoods without displacing current residents. Our guests:

The local real estate market remains massively tilted in favor of sellers, and agents see no signs of that changing this spring. That means that home buyers often have to make offers sight unseen, while waiving an inspection -- something agents routinely advise against. 

There is tremendous pressure on buyers. We discuss what might change that, and where the hottest neighborhoods are in local real estate. Our guests:

New numbers are out for local home sales, and they show it continues to be a seller's market.  That's because of the low inventory of existing homes, which is helping to push prices up.

For the third quarter, sales in Monroe County were down 2.4% compared to a year ago.  But for the region overall, sales in September were down 18 % compared to last year.

The median sales price in September was up 6% to $142,000 compared to a year ago. New listings for the Rochester region in September were down 6.7%.

When gentrification happens in our neighborhoods, who are the people most affected? Who is pushed out?

540WMain Community Learning Academy is working with a number of organizations to host a new edition of a conference on the subject of gentrification in Rochester. They'll explore what is being done to counter displacement and find solutions. We preview that conference with our guests:

How can urban design help alleviate poverty? It’s a question that informs the work of Katie Swenson, the vice president of National Design Initiatives at Enterprise Community Partners in Boston. Swenson is a national leader in sustainable design for low-income communities. She and her team work with architects dedicated to social activism.

This hour, we discuss the history of urban development, its roots in segregation, and how to incorporate community planning models that emphasize dignity for all residents. Our guests:

More than 88,000 homeless families are living in shelters across New York State. That’s according to a new housing activism campaign called Housing Justice for All. The coalition of state advocacy groups is dedicated to helping low-income tenants and homeless New Yorkers secure affordable, safe, and warm housing. The movement was launched in early January, coming just days before tenants in two Rochester apartment complexes exposed inadequate heating and additional problems in their buildings.

So what can tenants do to protect their rights? Some groups push the idea of a local Housing Court. Others are relying on advocacy at the state level. Our guests share the latest regarding tenants’ rights. In studio:

  • Ryan Acuff, member of the City-Wide Tenant Union and Take Back the Land
  • Kawanais Smith, tenant union president at Southview Towers
  • Jesus Miranda, resident of 960 Dewey Avenue