The JOSANA Neighborhood Renewal Project
Overhead view of our building efforts
in the JOSANA neighborhood.
In partnership with the City of Rochester and residents, Flower City Habitat for Humanity launched a major, multi-year house building program in the JOSANA neighborhood in the fall of 2007. As of 2013 we have completed nearly 40 houses in the neighborhood, building on Orange, Grape, Jay and Campbell Streets.
The JOSANA neighborhood is part of Rochester's "Crescent of Poverty" and is located west of Sahlen's Stadium and north of Interstate 490 West. Jay, Orange, Ames and Campbell are its main thoroughfares. The City of Rochester released a JOSANA Master Plan in January 2011 compiled by Interface Studio that charts the planned path of renewal for this previously neglected part of Rochester. Through data collection from stakeholders and JOSANA residents there is now a plan in place for neighborhood revitalization back by the City of Rochester and Flower City Habitat for Humanity is proud to be a part of the efforts.
Of all the needy areas in the "crescent," the JOSANA neighborhood faces some of the most dire problems. The neighborhood is poor and 74% minority. Thirty percent of families have incomes below 30% MFI (Median Family Income) and 65% are below 80% MFI. Forty-four percent of adult residents never graduated from high school. The neighborhood exhibits numerous signs of deterioration and instability:
- 99% of properties were built before 1950
- 53% of properties are owned by investors (absentee landlords)
- Investor properties are in poor condition -- calls to the Housing Council Hotline to report code violations are the highest per capita in the "crescent"
- 10 eviction proceedings per 100 housing units is indicative of a volatile and unstable neighborhood
- 43% of renters have been at their addresses for less than one year
Unfortunately, one of the most telling indicators of neighborhood health is the high incidence of lead paint poisoning. Several years ago, 29% of children age six and below tested at or above 10 micrograms per deciliter -- levels considered very dangerous in young children.
The JOSANA Neighborhood Renewal Project presents an opportunity to transform a profoundly troubled area into a safe and vibrant neighborhood in which residents live in decent, safe, and affordable homes. By recognizing historic population shifts, the project will reduce housing density and demolish aged and obsolete structures, while retaining the current mix of rental and homeownership options. Lead paint poisoning will be eliminated as an endemic problem in this neighborhood.
In the first phase of the project, we built houses on vacant lots on Orange Street and Grape Street. We continue building on lots identified by the city's Bureau of Housing on Orange St., Campbell St. and Whitney St. Project funding will determine the pace at which Flower City Habitat for Humanity can build; with more sponsorships and donations, more houses can be constructed. Limited government funding will be used, relying instead on donations and support from individuals, groups, the business community and foundations.
The most important goal of the JOSANA Neighborhood Renewal Project is to enable low- to moderate-income families to live in decent, safe and affordable housing and thus become part of the American Dream.