News10NBC Investigates: Median income in 14605 is $18,000, so we went there

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Mayor Malik Evans challenged me at his news conference on the city’s housing task force.

“What’s the median income, Berkeley, in the 14605 zip code? Take a guess,” the mayor said. “What’s the median income?”

“$18,000,” I answered.

“Boom! Right on,” the mayor replied with a slight surprise. “That’s exactly what it is. $18,000.”

The mayor’s question and our answer at City Hall are serious.

Think about it.

If the median income in one of the poorest zip codes in our city is $18,000, that means half of the families there are making less than that. So today, we decided to go to 14605.

Brean: “And the median income in this zip code is $18,000?”
Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons, Latino Youth Development Center: “I would even challenge that $18,000. I think it may be lower than that. “

Mercedes Vasquez-Simmons runs the Latino Youth Development Center on North Clinton Avenue. I met her on Hawkins Street where she says some of the rents are more than a thousand a month.

“I call it a set-up for failure,” she said. “You’re putting the rent at an unattainable rate.”

I followed Vasquez-Simmons to the other side of the zip code, to Thomas Street, where I saw the city’s Buy the Block program. There are new homes on Thomas Street.

And then we met Edwina Killings, who has lived here for a long time.

“This is an upgrade for us,” she said.

But the upgrades can drive up the costs.

Vasquez-Simmons: “Some of these houses were for sale, about $90,000 to $100,000. That’s very expensive.”
Edwina Killings, Thomas Street: “That’s a lot.”

I ran some of the numbers.

One property on Thomas Street is assessed at $56,700, but says the estimated sale value of the home is $106,424.

Another is assessed at $56,800, but the estimated value is $102,943

The assessment on a third home is $50,800, but it could be sold for $103,000.

“The houses look beautiful. They made our neighborhood look really nice over here.” Killings said. “It’s a good thing we got these houses, but I did not know they were that much. That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of money.”

“So the concept is great, but is it realistic based on what the average income is for this community?” Vasquez-Simmons asked. “We welcome these new houses, but is it truly affordable?”

There are a lot of tentacles to the mayor’s housing task force.

  • demolishing unlivable homes.
  • using the land bank to fix the ones that are.
  • a rental score card so renters know what they’re getting into.
  • and buying the block which builds new homes on vacant lots.