Rochester is a city of 26,630, located in southeastern New Hampshire on the State border with Maine. It is about 75 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts, and 30 miles east- northeast of Concord, New Hampshire's capitol city. Rochester is an old industrial city and a regional employment center. It is the northernmost of three small cities along the Spaulding Turnpike which runs through the Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester metropolitan areas to join Interstate 95, the major north-south coastal route.
In its Consolidated Plan, Rochester describes its housing and community development needs and priorities, and a 5-year strategy for addressing these needs using Federal and other resources. For the first year of the plan, Rochester is requesting $394,000 in Federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. This money will be used to finance the 13 community development and service activities planned for Fiscal Year 1995-1996.
During development of the Consolidated Plan, there was extensive public participation. The city's Planning, Development, and Zoning Department held four public hearings, in October 1994 and February, March, and May 1995. The hearings were announced in the local newspaper, on cable television, and in fliers distributed by neighborhood groups.
Telephone surveys were conducted by a consultant, and other surveys were mailed to local service organizations. All public and private service agencies were invited to the hearings, with both written and verbal invitations extended.MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.
There is little concentration of racial or ethnic minorities among the 26,630 residents in the city. In 1990 only 339 individuals, or 1.3 percent of the total population, were classified as minority. Fully 98.7 percent (26,291 residents) were white (non-Hispanic). Asian and Pacific Islanders made up almost half of the minority population, with very small numbers from each of the other census categories.
A manufacturing town, Rochester's factories produce computer networking equipment, firearms, women's shoes, high-pressure plastic laminates, special-use technical papers, surgical gloves, and other products. The labor force is relatively well-educated, mobile, and largely skilled workers. In 1988 there were 12,967 employed persons 16 years old and older. Following manufacturing (32 percent of the work force), retail trade (18 percent) was the largest employment sector.
Adjusted median family income (MFI) for Rochester is $37,916, based on a four-person household. Households with 50 percent or less of the median income (under $18,950) are defined as extremely low- or low-income.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
The primary housing needs in Rochester relate to affordability, the situation caused when rents and home prices are high when compared with incomes.
Rochester is predominately a city of single-family and owner-occupied housing. In 1990 there were 11,746 housing units. Owner-occupied units numbered 7,051 (60 percent), and renter-occupied units 2,313 (20 percent). Some 1,525 units were vacant.
Housing prices have declined and there are a relatively large number of houses and rental units on the market. Sales and rental prices for housing now appear to be stable. However, because of current unemployment levels, the economics of housing for lower income and moderate-income residents are unfavorable.
The adjusted median family income for Rochester is $37,916. Households are considered to be burdened by excess housing costs if they must pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing, including utilities. By that measure, extremely low-income households (those with incomes 0 to 30 percent of median family income, or MFI) in Rochester would have excess burden if they must pay more than $284 per month. Low-income households (31 to 50 percent of MFI) would be burdened by monthly housing costs over $480 and moderate- income households (51 to 80 percent of MFI) would be burdened by costs over $758.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development establishes "fair market rents" (FMRs) in order to determine rental assistance payments in specific markets. For Rochester the FMR for a two-bedroom unit is $647, a level that would mean excess burden for extremely low- and low-income households.
There is a need for more rental housing affordable to lower income and moderate-income households. There is also a need for a program to help first-time homebuyers with financial assistance such as deferred downpayments or low interest rate loans.
Rochester relies on regional nonprofit organizations to provide shelter for homeless persons. Research indicates that the homeless population is about 45 persons, 42 of whom are individuals and 3 of whom are members of a family. All are sheltered. Emphasis is placed on prevention of homelessness and provision of services. Subpopulations of the homeless with special service needs are as follows:
The Rochester Housing Authority has 344 public housing units, 172 of which are housing for the elderly, and 172 are family units. All are occupied. The authority also administers a rental assistance program that provides 106 Section 8 housing certificates and vouchers.
The authority's housing units are in above-average condition, though over 25 years old and requiring maintenance on a continuous basis. The public housing units are undergoing rehabilitation, over a 3-year period. The renovations include new roofs and doors, conversion from oil heating to gas, window replacement, new bathroom fixtures, and repainting. At one public housing project, the work includes road repaving, sidewalks, and outside lighting. Public housing modernization work is funded directly from HUD, and does not involve CDBG funds, though public housing residents may benefit from public services using CDBG monies.
The Rochester Housing Authority's waiting lists continue to be long, with at least 354 applicants for public housing or Section 8 rental assistance.
There are also three other assisted housing projects with rents made affordable by Section 8 assistance through the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, or by unit-based Section 8 vouchers or Section 236 subsidies.
There are no public policies that could negatively affect the cost or incentives to develop, maintain, or improve affordable housing. The city offers incentives to nonprofit housing agencies and developers to provide permanently affordable housing. A "cluster development" ordinance offers a density bonus for affordable housing for low- to moderate- income households, and another ordinance encourages the development of elderly housing.
According to the 1990 census, there were only 339 residents of the city classified as members of racial and ethnic minorities. The possibility of discriminatory behavior is believed minimal because there are no concentrations of racial or ethnic minorities in the community. The jurisdiction has not received any fair housing complaints. However, the city will take any necessary actions to further or ensure fair housing practices if and when needed.
In Rochester there are about 1,598 housing units at risk for lead-based paint (LBP) hazards. Of these, 1,231 are occupied by extremely low-income renter households. The city's needs in regard to lead hazards are twofold:
Rochester's elderly include 2,309 persons between ages 65 and 84, and 1,087 aged 85 or over. There are about 7 elderly housing facilities in the city serving 232 persons, with a waiting list of about 100. Another 277 elderly individuals are dependent upon others for support, and 236 are institutionalized. There is a need for congregate housing with support services for the elderly.
Among public facility needs, senior centers are one of two high-priority needs. The other is accessibility needs, because of requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Neighborhood facilities, child-care centers, and parks and recreation centers are medium- priority needs. Sidewalks are a medium priority among infrastructure improvements.
Improved transportation services are a high-priority need. Transportation serves a wide range of goals, including economic development, improving access to services and employment by lower income persons, reducing congestion, and improving air quality. Health services are a continuing high priority. Substance abuse and child-care services are a medium priority because a number of nongovernmental organizations are already addressing these issues.
Economic development is critical to Rochester's future because it will help shape the city's appearance, population, financial operations, and character. Developing quality jobs for Rochester's citizens is an important need.
The Consolidated Plan was produced by Rochester's Planning, Development, and Zoning Department in accordance with the city's master plan. Much of the information in this needs section was obtained from or developed in cooperation with nonprofit public service agencies in Strafford County and the city, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Agency, the city and State Welfare Departments, the Rochester Housing Authority, and concerned citizens of the community and region.
Rochester is located in a region rich with development potential. Rochester can become a center for economic and social diversity in this decade and into the next century. Effective planning will make the difference between the success or failure of Rochester's future.
The city's main objectives are to encourage safe and decent housing for all, and economic development, both to attract new business and industry and to encourage expansion by existing industry.
For the 5 years of the Consolidated Plan housing priorities are to meet the needs of lower income, cost-burdened and extremely cost-burdened households. High priorities are small renter families and elderly renters with the heaviest housing cost burdens.
Goals for economic development cover seven categories:
A high priority goal is to increase bus service for residents. Others include senior centers and senior services, fair housing activities, health services, and handicapped accessibility.
The main antipoverty strategy is to maintain and increase funding for the JOB Opportunity Benefit Loan Program. This provides loans of up to $25,000 to qualified businesses to create or retain employment opportunities for extremely low- and low-income persons. Eight loans have been made already, and these are credited with creating or saving 83 jobs. The city's economic development director is simplifying the program's application process and doubling possible loan size to $50,000.
Rochester's funding sources for the first year of its 5-year plan include $394,000 in CDBG entitlement funds, $17,000 from a return of grant funds, and an estimated $38,340 in income from prior economic development loans.
To effectively implement its 5-year Consolidated Plan, the jurisdiction will continue to rely heavily upon the Rochester Housing Authority and the New Hampshire Housing Finance Agency as primary sources of funds. The city anticipates additional support from its Welfare Program and nonprofit public service agencies.
The lead agency for implementing and coordinating this plan will be the city of Rochester's Planning and Community Development Department. There is significant cooperation and coordination between city and State governments with respect to affordable housing strategies. The jurisdiction will continue to consult with interested housing and State agencies.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.
MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; as well as, provides a table with information about the project(s).
During 1995 Rochester plans to fund 13 community development, housing, and public services activities.
Community development allocations are:
For housing, $15,000 will go to the Housing Partnership to assist in the rehabilitation of a 24-unit apartment building occupied by lower income households.
For public services, $154,000 will be provided to city agencies and community services organizations that provide services to lower income residents of Rochester. Subrecipients and activities include:
The rehabilitation, reconstruction, handicapped accessibility, and sewer connection activities included in this plan will benefit users of the Public Library and the new Old Courier Building senior center, residents of the Hideaway Mobile Home Park, and residents of the 24-unit building scheduled for rehabilitation. Other programs conducted by public or nonprofit service organizations will have a citywide impact among lower income residents. Housing activities in the action plan for 1995 will benefit 33 households and 24 families.