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Which housing is really affordable?

In response to the "Downtown Rochester's upward climb" on several inner city development projects: It's clear the term "affordable" housing continues to mislead journalists as well as citizens.

The article says that "Winn Development... has developed another section of affordable housing in the Sibley tower for people 55 and older." What's the rent like? How many units? How long will they stay that way? Why is their entrance separate, segregated, from those paying market rate?

"Construction is almost complete," the article says, "on Home Leasing's Charlotte Street affordable housing development on the inner loop fill-in: Apartments will be available to residents with incomes 40 to 90 percent of the area median income."

Again, glossed over is the fact that this "area median income" figure is using incomes from six counties, the Greater Rochester area, and not the city median income; which is around 20 to 30 percent of the larger AMI. These developers are getting public money to build these affordability inflated projects. It's like the processed food industry using the word "natural" on their synthetically manufactured products.

A family of four in the City of Rochester averages around $30,000, not $60,000 a year. Many are at $22,000. These units are completely out of reach for the long-standing black and brown residents of this historically redlined, white-disinvested city, whose white middle class got subsidized to move and build wealth in the suburbs, and whose children are now returning to live in the happening city. This current "revitalization of downtown" is creating the grounds for a cultural flip-flop in the coming years.

Shouldn't journalists know better? Y'all reported on the "four income categories: moderate income, low income, very low income, and extremely low income" that were introduced by City Hall last summer to describe affordability. Why aren't you using them?

We need to break up the city's concentration of poverty by integrating diverse income bands into the same housing: buildings that are abundantly mixed-income and stay that way. Developers who say it can't be done need to get creative if they truly want to build for all of the city and organize themselves at the federal level to change this racist policy.


Mitrano is a Rochester artist and activist who describes himself as "a renter on the cusp of the Inner Loop fill-in neighborhood organizing around development without displacement with the Our Land Roc coalition."

Downtown's more than Center City

"Downtown Rochester's Upward Climb" begins with a reference to Manhattan – which allows us to focus on a misnomer that impacts our perception of Rochester and suggestions for the future, that of "Downtown" versus the Center City.

The article repeats the word "downtown" incessantly, and a companion article on Arts in the Loop does the same, when both focus points are clearly center city.

Manhattan has an Uptown, Midtown, and Downtown, and the latter includes a multiplicity of neighborhoods: Soho, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, and Little Italy, to name a few. Similarly, Rochester's downtown includes Center City, Corn Hill, High Falls – and the Northeast Quadrant of St. Paul, Clinton, Joseph, and Hudson Avenues. Thus the population of Downtown is not 7,000. It's greater than 100,000!

One hundred thousand vibrant lives with vibrant businesses to shop, vibrant places, to worship, vibrant arts organizations – and the sooner we embrace the true borders of Downtown, the quicker we will integrate our city financially, spiritually, ethnically, racially, emotionally.


Scheier is president of the Joseph Avenue Arts and Culture Alliance and vice president of the Joseph Avenue Business Association.

Correcting ourselves

In our article about the March 30 forum on the Rochester City School District, we erroneously stated that the school district has to complete a revised version of a reform plan by April 19. District officials say that date has not been set.

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