A unique feature of NeighborWorks® Rochester’s Healthy Blocks Initiative is its approach to neighborhood stabilization by the use of data to develop new projects. This data-driven trajectory resulted in the Triangle Half-Bath Program, a pilot project funded by the Community Design Center of Rochester’s Development and Design Fund Grant and NeighborWorks® America’s Pride in Place Grant. The Half-Bath Program provided ten Triangle neighborhood homeowners with free architectural renderings (provided by the local firm Architectura, PC) and cost estimates to plan a half-bath addition to their one-bathroom home.
The Half-Bath Program was driven by results from a comprehensive market study conducted in the Triangle in 2015. The study revealed that 74% of the Triangle’s single-family housing stock was built before 1940. Because of this, the majority of these homes are three bedroom, one-bathroom houses with the bath located on the second floor. The study also documented that over a ten-year period, 64% of the single-family homes that sold for less than $65,000 were purchased by investors. At the same time, properties with one and a half bathrooms sold for, on average, $10,000 more than homes with only one bathroom, making them less attractive to investorsThe addition of a half-bath to a one-bathroom property has the potential for several positive outcomes. First, a second bathroom on the first floor can make the home more practical and comfortable for growing families, guests, and/or elderly residents or relatives who have more trouble climbing stairs—all of which can lead to a family remaining longer in the home. Second, the value added by the second bath raises the purchase price of the home above investor interest, so that if the family does decide to move, their home is more likely to be purchased by an owner-occupant. Both of these factors contribute to the neighborhood’s long-term stability.
With the total cost of the project often falling below the $10,000 mark, adding a half-bath (or in some cases, another full bath) is a good investment for many homeowners. However, there are barriers to beginning the project, such as finding an architect, paying for initial estimates, and a general lack of knowledge and experience about the project’s costs and process. The Half-Bath Program removed those barriers for its ten pilot participants, some of whom are already planning to have the project completed with the help of resources from NeighborWorks® Rochester and from our partner, Canandaigua National Bank, both of whom are offering special funding exclusively for the Triangle in support of the project. NeighborWorks Rochester is excited about the possibility that this pilot can be replicated in other neighborhoods, making homes more suitable and desirable for families and providing stability in city neighborhoods.