The City of Rochester continues to hand out housing assistance grants to six-figure members of the mayor’s cabinet.

The latest is Alex Yudelson. The Chief of Staff, who is only four years out of college, earned a salary of $112,490 last fiscal year.

Yudelson recently closed on duplex in the ABC Neighborhood that was listed at $295,000. He took out a mortgage for $289,656.

City taxpayers kicked in $6,000 as part of the Employer Assisted Housing Initiative.

The Employer Assisted Housing Initiative began in 2003 under Mayor Bill Johnson. City workers could get grants of up to $3,000 to purchase a home in the city. The incentive was raised to $6,000 under Mayor Bob Duffy. The program is meant to provide incentives to work for the city and live in the city.

Other six-figure employees who have taken part in the incentive program in the past include the late deputy mayor Len Redon (2013) and former Corporation Counsel Robert Bergin (2011), who both purchased properties for more than $200,000. Cedric Alexander also bought a home under the program in 2005.

Yudelson is required to live in the home for five years. If he leaves sooner, he’ll have to pay a portion of the grant back to the city. He also has to work for the city for the next two years or pay the grant back.

Private employers can take part in the program. The University of Rochester participates. The city will match company contributions up to $3,000.

But unlike workers at private companies, members of the mayor’s senior management team don’t need an incentive to buy a house in the city. They are required to live in the city and have no choice as a condition of their employment. Most city workers, except for police, fire, 911 and library staff, have to live in the city.

The city’s Home Purchase Assistance Program and HOME Rochester program have income limits for participants.

The city should limit these grants to workers in certain pay brackets. For employees like Yudelson, this wasn’t an incentive. This was an unnecessary reward.

Read: Yudelson’s Mortgage

Read: Yudelson’s Grant Agreement

Author: Rachel Barnhart

  1. Burt Macklin says:

    “The latest is Alex Yudelson. The Chief of Staff, who is only four years out of college, earned a salary of $112,490 last fiscal year.”
    “…who is only four years out of college…”
    Inferring that years out of college has anything to do with pay grade is, well, hands down, ridiculous.
    What would your astute observation be as to what he should make “only four years out of college?”
    Is his income offending you?
    How do you feel as to the income level of those who didn’t go to college?
    Are they adequate enough to live up to their pay?
    Is that too much pay if they haven’t gone to college?
    What’s the sufficient amount of time to be out of college to be earning an income for a grant that keeps young professionals in our community as home-owners and tax payers, when that may not have been an attractive option?

    “Yudelson is required to live in the home for five years. If he leaves sooner, he’ll have to pay a portion of the grant back to the city.”

    “The University of Rochester participates.” Are you talking about with Strong Memorial Hospital? The same hospital making sure we have adequate health professionals in our community; many mind you, coming from outside areas to live in Rochester, when they wouldn’t be afforded an attractive grant?
    Some who may advance in their careers to become six figure doctors or nursing professionals over the five years REQUIRED to live in the city as a TAX PAYING RESIDENT in ZONED areas for the grant.
    If they make six figures as a health professional, a nurse or a doctor serving you and your family in your community are they deemed unqualified?

    Stop with your muckraking nonsense or find more pertinent articles to write about.

    Heard nothing about Trevyan Rowe on here.

    I suppose that’s far too mainstream for you and your journalists to have an actual impact.

    Hoping for better content, and sad I actually contributed to views on this article.

    • The difference with offering such a grant to private workers is they have a choice about where to live.

      By definition, an incentive is supposed to encourage someone to do something they would not otherwise do. Yudelson and his senior management counterparts have an incentive in a six-figure job that already requires them to live in the city.

      The intent of this program isn’t to help senior managers pay for their homes. By contrast, if you or I wanted to apply for City grants, we would be restricted to $3000 and 120 percent of the AMI.

      This program should be restricted for certain classes of City employees, the ones who have choices or need financial help. These are tax dollars. The goal should be to spend them wisely for maximum impact.

      It’s indefensible to give a $112,000-a-year worker $6,000 to buy a $295,000 income-generating property in a high-poverty, high-needs City.

      We do not cover day-to-day news. We focus on broader issues of accountability and good government that are not covered by mainstream news outlets.

      – Rachel

  2. Is your time best spent criticizing young and successful politicians that spend countless hours actually trying to help the community instead of trying to gain attention for yourself? Why attack someone for using a 15 year old benefit policy. Please explain to me how this along with the released email of what happens in every single office and takes a very minuscule time out of an office’s day is not an out of line personal attack on an individual. It’s dissapointing that so many people try to perceive good people as corrupt for their own good. The noble move would be too apologize and recognize your mistake, I wish you the best in making real contributions to our Rochester community.

    • This isn’t first story I’ve done on policy. I also did one in 2013 when Redon used it. As a senior administration official, Yudelson is accountable to the public. All of his actions are open to scrutiny when he’s on City Hall time. You can choose to care or not care. Where in this piece is Yudelson “criticized?” In fact, no one has suggested he did anything wrong. The policy is a bad policy and that’s the issue. The fact Yudelson used it and is being exposed comes with the territory when you’re a public official. We have asked for all personnel who’ve used it, so this isn’t the last time you’ll hear about it. If Yudelson thinks this is so great, he’s free to explain to us why he deserves a grant, seeing how he makes six figures and lives in a high poverty city. Just because he’s successful and works hard doesn’t mean he deserves a bonus from taxpayers. This isn’t a Fortune 500 company. The attitude he’s somehow deserving of the grant and therefore it’s okay, is not an effective way to analyze public policy. – Rachel

  3. Maryagnes Lupien says:

    I agree. The policy should not cover employees who make over a certain amount who are required to live in the city due to the contract they signed with the city. However, lower-wage workers should get the assistance even if required and this grant isn’t a true “incentive”. If it were me, I would not have used the taxpayer funded grant.

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