What and where, is Healthy Blocks?

Swillburg Neighborhood Branded Street Signs

Focusing on strengthening assets, Healthy Blocks works to improve resident confidence. This leads to their greater economic and social re-investment to improve the neighborhood’s image, encouraging homebuyer interest and supporting long-term residency. NeighborWorks® Rochester’s other lines of business also contribute to the success of Health Blocks; for example, home improvement loans are offered to all Healthy Blocks neighborhoods, past and present, for a further reduced rate and with a waived application fee. Healthy Blocks measures its impact through tracking house sale data (including asking and sales prices and days on market) and taking resident confidence and property conditions surveys in years one, three, and five. Our “legacy neighborhoods” and the projects organized by Healthy Blocks are:

Swillburg Neighborhood (2005-2010)

  • Implemented a “unifier” project to visually connect the area – decorative house plaques with the Swillburg logo, still in use today
  • Organized a ‘group purchase’ of driveway replacements for homeowners and landlords, which came at a discount from the contractor
  • Helped residents plan and build a gazebo in Otto Henderberg Park, used for concerts and social events
  • Installed branded gateway signage around the entrances to the neighborhood, giving Swillburg a distinct “district” feel
  • Saw the average house price increase from $48,000 to its more historic value of $82,000 by the end of the Healthy Blocks term
  • Membership in the Swillburg Neighborhood Association increase by more than 40% and resident participation in social activities increase by 20%
  • Realtor’s Association uses the name “Swillburg” when selling property in the area

Brooks Landing Neighborhood (2007-2013)

  • Helped organize annual community skate parties at the Genesee Valley Park skating rink
  • Held a barbecue and music event at the University of Rochester footbridge for students and community members
  • Implemented 10 Makeover Madness matching grants for residents for exterior home improvements
  • Held an pop-up art gallery on Genesee St. for First Friday featuring neighborhood artists
  • Planted over 200 perennial plants in the spring of 2012, and over 300 daffodil and tulip bulbs in the fall

 The Pocket Neighborhood LogoThe Pocket Neighborhood (2008-2013)

    • Launched an identity/marketing campaign using the residents’ choice of name, “The Pocket”, including logo creation and street banners along Atlantic Ave.
    • Organized the installation of colorful, artistic crosswalks along Atlantic and E. Main designed by a local artist and painted by residents
    • Helped to create a community garden on a vacant lot on Heinrich St. and organized its further expansion later by adding six new raised beds, constructing three new public sitting benches, and planting over 400 daffodil bulbs
    • Installed over 200 matching house plaques, over 75% of the neighborhood
    • The average sale price per square foot of homes increase over 20% between 2008 and 2012 

The Triangle Neighborhood (2014-present)

  • Launched the initiative in 2014 with a “Taste of the Triangle” party drawing over 150 participants and engaging residents, local businesses, and community partners
  • Installed four artistic bike racks at the Culver-Merchants Point created by local metal fabricators
  • Completed a branding campaign including the neighborhood’s name, logo, brand statement, and website that has begun to be used widely around Rochester
  • Designed, printed, and began distributing Welcome Wagon packets and gifts to new neighbors in the Triangle
  • Held multiple social events including three pub crawls featuring Triangle Merchants Association member businesses and a pop-up First Friday gallery in a vacant commercial space with partners from Gallery Q and Image Out
  • Helped to form and engage a Triangle planning group that meets monthly
  • Between 2014-2016, average home sale prices, resident confidence, feelings of safety, and ‘house proud’ levels all improved significantly
  • Other community projects, including gateway signage, a mural, and micropark at the Cobblestone house are underway

NeighborWorks® Rochester Chosen for Pilot Health Study

Mom and daughterNeighborWorks® Rochester actively remains current on trends and research in the field of community development through specific Community Initiatives, including the intersection of housing and health. According to the Healthcare Intelligence Network, “Evidence is mounting that social determinants of health—social, economic and environmental factors that impact quality of life—significantly influence population health. Research published by Brigham Young University in 2015 determined that the social determinants of loneliness and social isolation pose as great a threat to longevity as obesity. Cognizant of the need to promote social and physical environments conducive to optimal health, more than two-thirds of healthcare organizations now assess populations for social determinants of health (SDOH) as part of ongoing care management.”[1]

Because of attention focused on health outcomes both from community partners and from funders, it is increasingly necessary for community development organizations to demonstrate that their programming makes an impact on the SDOH of their target populations in a way that measurably improves health outcomes over time. With support from organizations including the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, Enterprise Community Partners and NeighborWorks® America launched a Health Outcomes Demonstration Pilot in order to “build organizations’ capacity to evaluate the health outcomes of their work through a national cohort, building the body of evidence demonstrating housing and community development’s contribution to improved health outcomes.”[2] Only 20 organizations were awarded the opportunity to participate, which includes technical assistance, grant support, peer-to-peer learning, and most importantly, access to a comprehensive set of data collection tools that were developed and tested by Success Measures to measure health outcomes of programs and initiatives on the populations they serve.

NeighborWorks® Rochester was awarded a slot in the Pilot to evaluate Healthy Blocks, its creative neighborhood-strengthening initiative that makes a five-year commitment to a neighborhood (in this case, the Triangle) in transition with the goals of improving property conditions, resident engagement, and neighborhood image. Healthy Blocks staff worked with a consultant to develop an evaluation that focuses on the SDOH upon which the projects, events, and other elements of Healthy Blocks have the most direct effect; namely, social cohesion (community efficacy, inter-resident trust, participation, etc.). The Healthy Blocks initiative is a more complicated endeavor to evaluation compared with other service-providing programs that have more direct and specific contact and service delivery to participants. Because the initiative is designed to work in tandem with market forces and measures its success based resident satisfaction, block conditions, and rising home values (all of which have a wide variety of confounding variables), it is with caution that we attribute improvements in health outcomes to the work directly done by Healthy Blocks. However, in an effort to evaluate the initiative as accurately as possible, our target population consists of Triangle neighborhood residents who have been directly involved in at least one HB-sponsored activity or reside in a geographical location immediately surrounding our existing or planned public streetscape improvements.

[1] Abstract from “Social Determinants of Health in 2017: Scarcity of Supportive Services Hampers SDOH Linkages” 2017 Healthcare Intelligence Network <http://www.hin.com/library/registerSocialHealthDeterminants2017.html>

[2] Excerpt from Health Outcomes Demonstration Project Q&A Webinar, presented 12 September 2016 Enterprise Community Partners https://www.enterprisecommunity.org/resources/national-health-outcomes-demonstration-project-qa-webinar-1-18246, emphasis added

How would adding second bathroom make an impact on my home and my neighborhood?

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A unique feature of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative is its approach to neighborhood stabilization by the use of data to develop new projects. This data-driven trajectory resulted in the Triangle Half-Bath Program, a pilot project funded by the Community Design Center of Rochester’s Development and Design Fund Grant and NeighborWorks® America’s Pride in Place Grant. The Half-Bath Program provided ten Triangle neighborhood homeowners with free architectural renderings (provided by the local firm Architectura, PC) and cost estimates to plan a half-bath addition to their one-bathroom home.

The Half-Bath Program was driven by results from a comprehensive market study conducted in the Triangle in 2015. The study revealed that 74% of the Triangle’s single-family housing stock was built before 1940. Because of this, the majority of these homes are three bedroom, one-bathroom houses with the bath located on the second floor. The study also documented that over a ten-year period, 64% of the single-family homes that sold for less than $65,000 were purchased by investors. At the same time, properties with one and a half bathrooms sold for, on average, $10,000 more than homes with only one bathroom, making them less attractive to investorsThe addition of a half-bath to a one-bathroom property has the potential for several positive outcomes. First, a second bathroom on the first floor can make the home more practical and comfortable for growing families, guests, and/or elderly residents or relatives who have more trouble climbing stairs—all of which can lead to a family remaining longer in the home. Second, the value added by the second bath raises the purchase price of the home above investor interest, so that if the family does decide to move, their home is more likely to be purchased by an owner-occupant. Both of these factors contribute to the neighborhood’s long-term stability.

With the total cost of the project often falling below the $10,000 mark, adding a half-bath (or in some cases, another full bath) is a good investment for many homeowners. However, there are barriers to beginning the project, such as finding an architect, paying for initial estimates, and a general lack of knowledge and experience about the project’s costs and process. The Half-Bath Program removed those barriers for its ten pilot participants, some of whom are already planning to have the project completed with the help of resources from NeighborWorks® Rochester and from our partner, Canandaigua National Bank, both of whom are offering special funding exclusively for the Triangle in support of the project. NeighborWorks Rochester is excited about the possibility that this pilot can be replicated in other neighborhoods, making homes more suitable and desirable for families and providing stability in city neighborhoods.

 

2017 Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Awards Announced

LOGO RectangleNeighborWorks® Rochester is thrilled to announce the winners of its Celebration of Rochester Neighbors Awards. The awards were distributed on Monday,  June 5thfrom 5:00PM to 7:30PM at the City of Rochester Public Market. Like a city-wide block party, the event featured live music, food and a chance to have fun with neighbors from throughout the city.

Nolia BrooksSouthWest Quadrant Community Champion : Mrs. Nolia Brooks, grew up in the PLEX area, and is a 50-year resident who has a love for her community. She consistently cleans and plants flowers in the PLEX neighborhood round-about on Ford Street and Plymouth Avenue, and other locations in the area. She regularly participates in the United Way Day of Caring and the City’s Clean Sweep. She’s very supportive of the PLEX meetings and supports neighborhood issues at additional meetings of concern to the neighborhood. Mrs. Brooks helps to plan social gatherings and heritage celebrations for the neighborhood. Her nominator, Dorothy Hall, says she is “someone who is deserving of this award, and who gives so much to her community.”

NorthEast Quadrant Community Champion: Andre Morrison, the Community Champion for the Northeast Quadrant, is described as “an individual who is eager toAndreMorrisonface bring about a difference in people’s lives regardless of recognition,” by his nominator, Carlos Santana. In addition to providing hundreds of free haircuts at his barbershop, Mr. Morrison is always “thinking how to improve the neighborhood he grew up in and uplifting and encouraging people so they may see a better future.” By hosting an annual Cut The Violence event in his shop, Mr. Morrison has helped many families with more than just a free cut for students to go back to school, he has also offered guidance to those in trouble, mentored youth and shared his skills and advice with those interested in a barbering career. Carlos added that Mr. Morrison is “A soft-spoken individual who cares for those in need by providing a service that brings these children self-worth and self-pride and doing it from the heart.”

NorthWest Quadrant Community Champion: As a 17-year resident of the Edgerton Neighborhood, the Northwest Quadrant Community Champion, Ms. Piper Dailey-Seman, is an active member and leader in the Edgerton Neighborhood Association. As the Association’s Acting Vice President, she encourages neighbors to come together and communicate their concerns about their community. She often is a team leader for the city’s Clean Sweep Program. Her nominators from the Northwest Neighborhood Service Center team states,”her activities have brought awareness (safety) to the Edgerton Neighborhood and her work has been integral, drawing others to the neighborhood and the association.”

Kelly Bush faceSouthEast Quadrant Community Champion: Ms. Kelly Bushis a member of the Monroe Avenue Merchants Association (MAMA) and is actively involved with the Wadworth Square Neighborhood Association. This creative and energetic business owner supports many neighborhood initiatives and beautification efforts. The Southeast Neighborhood Service Center team nominated her, saying, “She never says it can’t be done. She is a positive force on Monroe Ave that keeps the avenue working together as they continue to grow…She cares for the neighborhood and it shows.”

Community Leader Award: The Community Leader Award recognizes volunteer leaders who spark change by engaging others in improving their community. Geri and Joe Machado are the embodiment of this award, having spent more than 20 years as leaders and organizers in their Highland Park community. As 45-year residents of the Highland Park neighborhood, they have volunteered countless hours organizing their neighborhood’s National Night Out Against Crime, serving as president of the May Street Block Club, participating in PAC-TAC and neighborhood watch programs, organizing the neighborhood Clean Sweep efforts, and much more. The Machado’s were nominated for the award by Lt. Frank Alberti, of the Rochester Police Department. He said, “They have worked tirelessly for years without recognition and do not seek such. They are modest, humble people who care about our community more than anyone I know.” The couple has hosted community outreach and holiday events in their immaculate home, welcoming neighbors and first responders, and improving the area’s quality of life, as well as relationship between the neighbors and the Rochester Police Department

The couple also communicates regularly with the D.A.’s Office, Judges and defense attorneys, participates in Operation Court Watch and spends long days in the courtroom following cases pertinent to their neighborhood. They also report to the community and the police department of the progress of cases, and solicit feedback from the community to relay to the D.A.’s Office and Judges.Marchadosfaces

Geri and Joe are also very supportive of other community events and represent their neighborhood at NBN6 meetings. This power couple are true leaders in their community and the heart of their neighborhood.

United Way Day of Caring – Volunteers Rock!

NeighborWorks Rochester was thrilled to be a host site again for this year’s Day of Caring event sponsored by the United Way of Greater Rochester! For the third straight year, the Harris Corporation sent a team of

Harris Corporation team
Harris Corporation team

volunteers to our not-for-profit organization. Once again, this incredible team was extremely helpful in tackling many building and yard projects, making our organization look it’s best for our customers, neighbors, and partners. Led by Dana Colbert, the group spent time weeding and spreading mulch throughout our entire property. They patched parking lot potholes, cleaned windows and appliances, and also did some painting for us. No project was too grimy or gritty for them, and they did it all with a smile! We look forward to seeing them every year!! Some of our NeighborWorks staff worked side-by-side with the Harris team, while others tackled large projects indoors! I can’t thank The Harris Corporation and NeighborWorks Rochester Teams enough for beautify our landscape inside and out!

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Canandaigua National Bank honored at 2017 Annual Meeting

NeighborWorks® Rochester presented its Partner of the Year Award at its 2017 Annual Meeting, held March 29th at the agency. The event was a celebration of a year of services provided to new and current homeowners i

Executive Vice President, Brian Pasley, accepts the award on behalf of Canandaigua National Bank from NeighborWorks Rochester Executive Director Joanne Panarisi-Bottone and Board President, Matthew McDermott
Executive Vice President, Brian Pasley, accepts the award on behalf of Canandaigua National Bank from NeighborWorks Rochester Executive Director Joanne Panarisi-Bottone and Board President, Matthew McDermott

n the Rochester area, as well as an opportunity to recognize individuals and organizations that were significant supporters.

 

Executive Vice President Brian Pasley accepted the Partner of The Year Award on behalf of Canandaigua Bank. “As an approved Federal Home Loan Bank of NY (FHLBNY) Community Lender, Canandaigua National Bank has continued to take an active role in showing support through contributions and volunteering, and is in complete alignment with NeighborWorks® Rochester’s mission to provide housing solutions as a foundation for individuals, families and neighborhoods to build vibrant communities,” stated Joanne Panarisi-Bottone, NeighborWorks Rochester Executive Director. “We’re excited to continue to grow in our partnership,” she added.

The Volunteer of the Year Award recognized long-time volunteer Ellie MacLeod, of Penfield.  Ms. Panarisi-Bottone said of her, “Pla

Volunteer of the Year, Ellie MacLeod
Volunteer of the Year, Ellie MacLeod

nning, organizing, hustling sponsors, setting up, delivering… she’s done it all…Through her dedicated volunteer efforts, Ellie has made our world a better place.”

 

Guests at the event heard about the impact of the previous year, including that close to 500 families and individuals were impacted by NeighborWorks® Rochester’s services in 2016.  At least 109 individuals were able to realize their dream of homeownership because of the organization’s Home Buyer education services and 97 homeowners received home energy audits and access to financing programs for energy and money savings. In addition, close to $821,000 was invested in the community in the form of down payment assistance, home improvements and home energy improvements.

Want to get started on your path to becoming a homeowner? Four tips that will help you navigate the home buying process.

 

With the holidays over, some people are gearing up to make their next purchase – a home. The homebuying season is in full swing. Below are four tips you can share to help consumers make the best homeownership first time homeownerchoice in 2017: strengthen their credit, shop wisely for a mortgage, choose the right house and negotiate the best price.

  1. Strengthen your credit score before looking for a mortgage. The majority of people don’t know their credit score until they begin to look for a home or a mortgage. Since finding the right house takes an average of one to three months, it could pay off to use the time to strengthen your credit score, especially if it means getting a lower mortgage rate. The benefit varies from lender to lender, but a strong credit score can cut as much as half a percent from your rate. A NeighborWorks® Rochester Housing Advisor can provide guidance on what to do to boost your credit score while shopping for a home.
  1. Shop around for the best mortgage. Not every lender offers the same mortgage rate, so shopping around is essential. Yet, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, nearly half of people who apply for a mortgage don’t shop around. The price of failing to do so can be quite significant after several years. As important as it is to obtain the best mortgage rate, it’s also crucial to be aware of fees charged by mortgage lenders. These fees go by various names—another reason to work closely with a NeighborWorks® Rochester Housing Advisor throughout the process.
  1. Choose your house carefully. With a mortgage-approval letter in hand, it’s time to find your home. A market with low housing supply requires a buyer to look for a “diamond in the rough”—a not-so-perfect house that could be rehabbed to make it suitable. That doesn’t you should settle for a house that doesn’t meet your basic needs. Keep your list of must-haves front and center, but make sure they are not really “nice-to-haves.”
  1. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. If real estate is location, location, location, then homebuying is negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Unless you’re buying in the most heated and competitive markets, there is always room for negotiation. Here’s where selecting the right real estate agent pays off. Whether it’s the price of the house—probably the most important item to negotiate—the portion of closing costs to be paid or whether a warranty for major appliances is included, presenting the seller with a list of requests is important. Remember, the seller wants to sell and you want to buy. Home purchases that are mutually beneficial are made in the middle.

The path to your first home can be stressful and confusing. Following these tips and working with the team at NeighborWorks® Rochester will help you successfully find your “home sweet home.” Get started, and learn even more great tips, by attending one of our free monthly Homebuyer Orientations. Sign up on our website.

NeighborWorks® Rochester Helps Bring Free Solar to Triangle Family

Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative has been active in The Triangle neighborhood of North Winton Village, working to improve property conditions, neighborhood image, and resident engagement. Part of the work of Healthy Blocks has been focused on making the neighborhood greener through various projects: tree plantings, clean sweeps, free home energy assessments through Green Jobs/Green New York, connecting residents with loans and grants for energy improvements through New York State’s EMPOWER and Assisted Home Performance programs, and more! Since 2014, NeighborWorks® Rochester has helped neighbors invest more than $63,000 in environmentally-friendly energy improvements in the Triangle neighborhood alone. NeighborWorks® Rochester has also shown a commitment to bringing renewable energy to the City of Rochester and Monroe County. Our organization partnered with ROCSPOT on its last two Solarize the Flower City campaigns, which held public solar orientations and helped hundredboswell-familys of Rochesterians sign up for free solar audits.

During this time, NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to partner with the Rochester Area Community Foundation, NeighborWorks® America, and GRID Alternatives to fund and implement 5 free rooftop solar installations to low-to-moderate-income families in the City of Rochester. This pilot program, the first of its kind in the City of Rochester, also includes a workforce development portion, where students in community college solar programs can participate in the installation of the panels and earn a certificate that indicates real job experience to potential employers. Using this model, the first two installations were completed on City homes in November of 2015.

At the close of 2016, NeighborWorks® Rochester celebrated the third installation—on a home in its very own Healthy Blocks neighborhood! Julie and Pat Boswell—pictured with baby Carey and pup Ava—received their 10 solar panels on December 21st from installers they describe as efficient and professional. The panels, which have a lifespan of 20 years, will save the Boswells $40/month in utility bills. Combined with the energy-efficiency improvements they received through the EMPOWER program, their monthly bill will be significantly lowered, helping both the environment and their bottom line. “I never thought this could happen,” says Julie. “I never would have thought this was an option if NeighborWorks® hadn’t reached out to us.”

solar-roofGRID Alternatives is in the process of identifying and scheduling the final two low-mod solar installations, which are slated to be completed by spring of this year.

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Investing in The Triangle through Leadership Training

Part of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks program is investing in resident leaders who can work to transform their community from the inside-out. As part of this goal, every year we sponsor a team of residents and City stakeholders to attend NeighborWorks® America’s Community Leadership Institute (CLI), a three-day event focused on training emerging leaders in skills for community organizing and neighborhood revitalization. This year’s attendees were Triangle residents Mikey Rodriguez, Julie Boswell, and Lorna Wright. Stakeholder attendees were: Baye Muhammad, the City’s Commissioner for Neighborhood and Business Development, LaShunda Leslie-Smith from Connected Communities, and Maureen Duggan from Rochester’s Community Design Center.

During the training, attendees took classes on building on community assets, organizing volunteers, marketing your neighborhood, sharing your success stories with the media, and other critical topics taught by experienced and knowledgeable faculty from all over the country. They also had to opportunity to share stories and ideas with other groups. In total, 110 teams from the nation – over 1000 participants – attended the event.

As a follow-up to the CLI, NeighborWorks® America provides a small grant opportunity to each team to put a resident-driven community project into action. This year’s team has chosen to pursue painting a community mural on Culver Road, the main gateway street for both The Triangle and Beechwood neighborhoods. The mural will bring the community together, both by addressing residents’ concerns about the street-facing facades of Culver Road commercial spaces and by adding unique and recognizable place-making elements to the The Triangle. Congratulations to all the attendees!

Building Upon the Past

till-fritzschingTill Fritzsching of Rochester, NY, found his new home on Craig’s List three years ago. Although the house was set for demolition by the City of Rochester, he saw the home and felt that it was a metaphor for his own life journey – as he puts it “the home had been through hell, and so had I.”
In 2013, Mr. Fritzsching had hit rock bottom. He was divorced, and no longer employed at the successful mid-west company he had once presided over. His home of the past few years had been a jail cell due to addiction. A physical injury had set him back as well and he ended up living in his mother’s home.
When he first saw the 1920’s era house on Northview Terrace, he knew it had potential, despite years of neglect and trees growing through the roof. The only tenants for years had been rodents. As the building was scheduled for demolition the very next day, the price was affordable. However, there was much work to be done to save it from the wrecking ball.
A neighbor referred him to NeighborWorks® Rochester, as the organization had assisted several other homeowners in the neighborhood. While he had put in a lot of his own sweat-equity, and had to learn to negotiate a labyrinth of homeowner-assistance programs, he still had a long way to go to rehab the home. NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to assist on several fronts.
NeighborWorks® Rochester was able to provide Mr. Fritzsching with resources for lead testing and encapsulation in the his home, garage, and basement, a new roof, gutters and eaves, exterior and interior paint, a new porch. “The house went from the worst on the block to one of the best,” Mr. Fritzsching stated. Also added to the home were new windows and a water heater.

In the past 5 years, NeighborWorks® Rochester has invested $4,784,000 in loans to help 279 homeowners purchase or rehab their home. Many of these loans also had a grant as part of the assistance, which allowed homeowners even more capacity to fix their house, without having to finance all of the expense. NeighborWorks® Rochester will work with customers who may be turned away by traditional lenders due to credit issues or not having enough equity in their home. The organization is a resource to homeowners who may face losing their home or living in disrepair or unhealthy or unsafe conditions.

“NeighborWorks® Rochester left a great taste in my mouth, and was my first choice once my credit was cleaned up. The contractors were great and I’m really satisfied,” Mr. Fritzsching added.
In a neighborhood hard-hit by the city’s decades of manufacturing job loss, his home now stands out as one of the nicest on the street.
Mr. Fritzsching added, “I’m not done yet. I just built myself a new back porch, and it really satisfies me to look at where this house was and where it is now. I consider not only the house but the project as a metaphor for my own life recovery in the sense that I made a commitment to restoring a once beautiful thing, much like my own life, to not necessarily what it was before but rather a recreation of a new vision of what it could be. I believe that the past should always be recognized and the foundation on what we can build, but we should never be limited by it for its own sake. That to me at least, gives me the freedom to not only build upon the past but create a new reality from it.”
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