NOTE: THIS ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE. SEE ALL D & C ARTICLES.
• September 6, 2015
Having devoted a good portion of 40 years helping people in the Marketview Heights Neighborhood, Julie Everitt touched more people than you can know. Now retired, Julie was involved in the neighborhood first as a housing planner with the City of Rochester and then as a housing developer with Housing Opportunities/PathStone.
In Marketview, Julie was seen in the Susan B. Anthony community garden, surrounded by green beans, tomatoes and marigolds planted by neighborhood children. Scouting out vacant eyesore houses to be demolished. Faithfully attending hundred of planning meetings. And doing her weekly shopping at the Public Market.
Today’s front page D & C story “How to fix a neighborhood on the edge” is a well researched and informed history and snapshot of where Marketview stands.
But no story about Marketview is complete without Julie’s commentary drawn from decades of experience:
1. What changes did you see in the neighborhood over 40 years? Disappearing middle class jobs
One of the biggest changes was the employment picture. At one time, a considerable number of residents had decent paying jobs including benefits, health care and pensions. Not peculiar to Rochester, these jobs are gone. New jobs pay less, have fewer benefits and require a car. In this economic environment, affordable housing and support services like day care keep families afloat and employed. Decent affordable housing is just as important as home ownership.
2. We hear so much about gentrification. Is Marketview suited for gentrification?
Obviously this is a low-income neighborhood. The residents and many of the other players believe gentrification is not the answer for this area of the City. Gentrification, or the influx of middle-income families to neighborhoods, has done much to revitalize other areas such as the South Wedge and Neighborhood of the Arts. Cities, however, will probably always be home to lower-income families.
While mixed income housing can be a goal, I believe a low-income neighborhood can be a viable area. A safe place to live and work where residents have the capacity to make decisions regarding their lives and future. Ultimately, such neighborhoods do require more resources, both public and private, than middle income areas. But the investment pays off by creating a sense of neighborhood autonomy and self-reliance.
3. What role can nonprofits play in revitalizing rather than gentrifying? The Marketview Collaborative
Neighborhood leaders have reached out to a number of organizations, mostly nonprofit, to forge cooperative arrangements. This is what the Marketview Collaborative is — a cooperative effort among a number organizations to plan for the area. In addition to PathStone (where I worked), other nonprofit developers include Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Rochester Housing Partnership,the Marketview Heights Association and the Enterprise Community Fund, while Sojourner House and Tempro provide support services. The United Way and the Rochester Institute of Technology have also played a role, as has the City of Rochester.
4. What are some pressing, immediate challenges? Abandoned buildings, Lewis Street and drug houses.
Besides keeping up the momentum that currently exists, there are still residential structures needing to be demolished or rehabilitated. The area around Lewis Street, as outlined in the Urban Renewal Plan coming out of the Marketview Collaborative, needs to be redeveloped. It is one of the most distressed places in the City. As a relatively small area, redevelopment is very doable. And, the few remaining drug houses in the neighborhood must be eliminated. The locations and players are known. The houses must be done away with — not moved from one street to another. Period.
5. Why are you optimistic?
There is good leadership, continuous for many years. Public and private investment has been considerable. Nonprofits now have a vested interest in the neighborhood. Having developed affordable housing, they want their investment protected and grown. The revitalization and growth of the Public Market provides a strong anchor with all its ancillary activities. Market rate housing has been developed on the area. A good sign. And, in recent years resident participation has increased. The community garden — really an urban oasis — thrives with little, if any, outside support.
Over the decades at Carol Kramer’s Sunday dinner, Julie has shared her stories of the ups and downs on Woodward and Weld Streets and more often than not toasted the successes of Marketview Heights.