Rochester to get $25 million in anti-poverty funding

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Gov. Kathy Hochul made several funding announcements at MCC Tuesday. (Photos: Governor of New York)

The city of Rochester is slated to get $25 million in state funds to fight poverty–half of a one-time Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families allocation statewide. 

A total of $50 million distributed across New York will support locally driven anti-poverty initiatives. It was one of several funding announcements made by Gov. Kathy Hochul in Rochester Tuesday. 

Nine out of the top 10 New York ZIP codes with the highest child poverty rates are in Upstate New York and more than half of the children in these ZIP codes are in families that are living below the federal poverty line, state officials noted.

“I am especially grateful for the governor’s planned $25 million investment to combat poverty in Rochester, which we will use to address the needs of children and families in some of the poorest neighborhoods in the state,” said Rochester Mayor Malik Evans. “Our partnership with Gov. Hochul and her team will accelerate our progress to create a safe, equitable and prosperous Rochester by inspiring hope and creating opportunity for everyone.”

Hochul’s visit here highlighted the FY 2025 budget investments in the Finger Lakes region. It includes the creation of the One Network for Regional Advanced Partnerships to create workplace development centers in four high-impact locations across Upstate New York. 

The program will focus on regions in Upstate New York, along the I-90 corridor from the Buffalo-Syracuse-Rochester Tech Hub to Albany, modeled after Buffalo’s Northland Workforce Training Center.

Each center is expected to build the skills of the local labor pool, connect employers with the skilled workers they need, and develop long-lasting economic on-ramps to training, apprenticeships, and employment for disadvantaged populations, officials say.

Monroe Community College, where Hochul made the announcement, is expected to receive $13.75 million for capital improvements, including $10 million for a STEM addition for the Applied Technology Center.

“My commitment to Rochester and the Finger Lakes is steadfast, and through these investments in our communities, we’re building a brighter future for every New Yorker in the region,” Hochul said.

The MCC expansion is expected to drive growth of its Optical Systems Technology program. With a 148 percent increase in student enrollment since 2019, this two-year training program–the first of its kind in the nation–provides a direct path to employment for hundreds of students and will support the state’s efforts to grow the semiconductor industry across Upstate New York, officials say. The $20 million total expansion will fund construction and the purchase of equipment.

State and local lawmakers and leaders were present at the meeting today.

“MCC’s pioneering Optical Systems Technology Program is not just an educational path: It’s a direct conduit to the high-demand, well-paying careers that define New York’s ambitious vision for the upstate semiconductor industry,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Gov. Kathy Hochul recognizes that investments in programs like MCC’s Optics Program combined with new initiatives like ON-RAMP allow communities from Buffalo to Rochester to Syracuse capitalize on our recent designation as a federal Tech Hub and lay the groundwork for our region to become America’s semiconductor superhighway.”

Other investments include $4.5 million each to the village of Webster and the town of Macedon as Finger Lakes region’s NY Forward winners. (NY Forward was created to revitalize downtowns in smaller and rural communities.) In Webster, plans include enhancing the streetscape, rehabilitating existing buildings for community programs and commercial and residential use, and a small project grant program.

Macedon also hopes to support adaptive reuse and rehabilitation, expand housing and small-business opportunities and streetscape enhancements. 

Macedon and Webster are among 13 localities in this region that join 123 others statewide in launching applications to become pro-housing communities. The other areas are:

■ Village of Brockport

■ City of Canandaigua

Town of Canandaigua

■ Village of Churchville

■ Town of Henrietta

■ Village of Honeoye Falls

■ Town of Irondequoit

Village of Newark

■ Village of Phelps

■ City of Rochester

■ Village of Waterloo

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

7 thoughts on “Rochester to get $25 million in anti-poverty funding

  1. Frank Orienter, there is a severe lack of safe, affordable housing available for low income workers. Nick Coulter researched available sources of $ to address our large homeless population and found money that had not reached the need. He applied and works day and night with 35 others to address this need. A film made of Person Centered Housing Option’s very effective work tells a compelling story. Also ask Kim Hunt Uzelac for her power pt presentation on Rochester’s homeless. She is executive director of Family Promise addressing the outrageous need for housing homeless families. The families I met over 15 yrs with Family Promise were very hard working but major health costs or landlords not maintaining the property safely, caused them to become homeless. It took a wheelchair bound veteran months to find an apartment in Rochester. The place she’d been living raised the rent too high!

    • No question, homelessness is a crisis across the country. Yet, I don’t believe that elected officials at all levels of government have developed a consistent strategic plan for addressing the challenge, leaving it up to local communities. People with mental health issues and others in extreme poverty, some victims of economic downturns, just don’t have the political power and visibility of institutions such as MCC. I worked for years as a community activist advocating for better housing and providing a path for home ownership or improvement. I even drew up a proposal for the Ryan administration on how to deal with absentee landlords. It went nowhere. I admire the work you and your cohort are doing. Still, perhaps you all need a better communications strategy so that elected officials pay attention and partner with you to access more needed resources. A few years ago, a vacant commercial building donated space over the winter to house homeless people temporarily. I liked that approach, but unfortunately, it ended when the developer started working on the structure. There must be other similar opportunities, and the city planning and housing staff should be working with you and the other people you mention.

  2. I have mixed feelings about Rochester getting another pile of money to combat poverty. I have yet to see an accurate accounting and verified program outcomes for the myriad programs that receive government largess. This multi-million dollar grant that will provide ten million dollars for MCC to construct a workforce development facility is excellent, but what will it do to put many at-risk young people into the workforce? Why can’t the existing development facility near Kodak or Kodak Park be used?

    In my experience, various government funding streams are used to hire staff, provide benefits, and maintain or build a facility where the target audience is supposed to come to and participate continuously until they secure employment. I know the United Way asks for such data, but I wonder if they ever audit the programs to verify outcomes. As poverty and unemployment are major challenges in Rochester, I wonder if all the public dollars spent since 1963 were to be added up, if it would be in the billions of dollars? Do I need to ask why is it that we are still at the top of childhood poverty in the US?

    On top of the recent announcement by the Governor a couple of days earlier, she spoke of employers having thousands of job openings and that many of the 170,000 immigrants in New York could take those jobs, and she’s working to build a database to match openings with qualified immigrants. Mostly in service and support positions. Why doesn’t she funnel some immigrants to programs like the one at MCC for skills development? Maybe some of the money could be used for English classes, civics, and citizenship test preparation to help many Spanish-speaking people who came across the southern border increase their income and participation in our economy.

    I believe we have created a culture of poverty and dependence and that the way agencies and funding sources, although well-intentioned, have exacerbated unintentional consequences. As newly elected officials and NFP agencies react to funding opportunities and administration changes, anti-poverty efforts also change so that no continuity of support achieves desired outcomes. What’s needed is an accounting of all government funds spent over the past fifty years, including welfare, housing and energy subsidies, recreation, and even how our education dollars are spent. There are plenty of high-minded ideas, but what about implementation? What are the actual outcomes that result from all this money the government provides? Local, State, Federal, and Corporate. I don’t think a serious, sociological, economic, and political needs assessment has ever been done across the entire community to determine exactly how taxpayer money should be spent to have the most significant impact. I’m grateful that some preparation is being implemented to make Rochester and Corning the center of the coming fiber optic, computer, and medical use of glass and optics. However, the various administrations must account for all financial inputs to see if the actual stated outcomes are achieved.

    • Frank, right on. Think about this, they plunk million down for a program in MCC. That is nice but too little too late for those that drop out on their K-12 journey. They miss the educational bus. We need to address education on the K-12 educational journey. What we are doing currently is losing them to poor grades and dropping out to the streets. We appear to be putting our education into gear at the post high level when we should be concentrating on preparing them for the post high level. The Golisano Institute is a great example. It’s great for those who have been prepared and have graduated. If you drop out or have poor grades in the K-12 journey you will never see that opportunity, no need to apply. It’s not the money or the amount of money throw at the issues that’s important, it’s what is done or accomplished with those dollars that counts.

    • My name is Van Smith Founder and CEO of Recovery Houses of Rochester, inc. a 501(c3) Nonprofit organization that has serves the substance use disorder males in a home like atmosphere since 2002 . We have found it very difficult to get our residents placed in Permanent supportive housing helping the men move toward self sufficiency . We constantly get told that Developers cant make any money on 15-20 units. Which is why I believe its wise for the small nonprofits to establish a development organization and establish housing for the below 30% AMI . I am still trying to find out how much of the $25 million will go toward low income housing . When you find out please let me know [email protected]

  3. Education, with a focus on vocational education, will do more to eliminate poverty than the constant hand out of dollars and cents. The education will eventually eliminate poverty, while the hand out will result in never ending hand outs. That said, the current educational system only creates more poverty and dependance. Decades of educational failure which is now accepted as the norm. Just saying.

    • You’re correct. But it’s not a new phenomenon. I was a shop teacher in the early seventies and left because “social promotion” was rampant in the RCSD. It still exists because building principals don’t want to deal with the fallout. The whole “self-esteem” movement weakened rather than strengthened students. It seems now that standardized testing is returning. Parents must understand and trust that testing is a tool to assess individual progress against a standard. However, teachers and administrators must follow up on poor test performance with appropriate remediation. The RCSD’s money per pupil is enough to send each student to a top-notch private school. So where is the money going? I tried to win a seat on the RCSD School Board this year with the idea that education is a three-legged school. One is the teacher, the other is the guardian, and the third is the community. Nothing will change as citizens blindly vote for novelty candidates or familiar names rather than understanding the role of the school board. I believe it is primarily fiduciary, where commissioners question how every penny spent supports student achievement. Taxpayers keep spending more and more money and getting the same or worse results. Something is rotten in Denmark.

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