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Habitat for Humanity merger: Rochester, Ontario, and Wayne join forces

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  • Staff Report 

Board members of Habitat for Humanity affiliates in Rochester, Canandaigua and Newark have voted unanimously to embark on a strategic merger of the three affiliates, creating one organization with a mission to serve more families more effectively than any of the three organizations could do on their own. Flower City Habitat in Rochester, Ontario County Habitat in Canandaigua and Wayne County Habitat in Newark will join forces under the new name of Greater Rochester Habitat for Humanity in January 2023. With this merger the organization will be able to continue to serve low-to-moderate income families from Rochester to Geneva, with other communities to be included in the three-county area.

“With a combined 100-plus years of experience, we will have the unique opportunity to serve more families in need of affordable housing in our communities with new homes, rehabs of existing homes as well as critical repairs to help owners remain in their homes,” said Matthew J. Flanigan, Flower City Habitat CEO. “We are extremely excited by the increased impact Greater Rochester Habitat for Humanity will have in our communities. We will be able to deliver upon our mission to serve families with safe, decent housing they can afford in a new, unified service area.”

The merger will create one new affiliate, serving a 3,400 square mile three county area. It will be the second largest Habitat affiliate by production in the state of New York and in the top 40 U.S. affiliates. The new organization will retain a presence in all three counties, including offices and ReStores. Following completion of the merger, Matthew J. Flanigan will serve as the President & CEO of the combined entity, Nash Bock will serve as Chief Business and Innovation Officer, and JJ Cotter will serve as Vice President of Programs. Bock and Cotter will continue in their roles as Executive Director of Ontario County and Wayne County Habitat, respectively, until the legal consolidation on January 2, 2023.

“The three ReStore locations in Rochester and Canandaigua are a critical part of our funding model and will continue to operate with the help of our donors and dedicated volunteers,” said Nash Bock, Executive Director of Ontario County Habitat for Humanity. “We look forward to building on our already strong support over the years and leveraging our combined talents to deliver greater impact for families and communities in each of the areas we have historically served.”

Together the three local Habitat for Humanity affiliates have a long and impressive history. Flower City Habitat was founded in 1984, Wayne County began in 1988 and Ontario County was established 1990. Combined, they have served nearly 350 area families with new homes, rehabilitated homes, and critical repairs. In 2021 alone, volunteers logged a combined 55,000 hours with a total of 1,600 volunteers, serving in ReStores, on construction sites and in offices. Homeowners-in-process across the region participated in financial education classes and collectively earned more than 4,000 hours of sweat equity toward the purchase of their homes.

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“At the heart of the Habitat program is the hard-working families we serve,” said Wayne County Executive Director JJ Cotter. “By combining our resources, we are confident we will expand not only the number of families we assist but enhance the breadth and quality of the programs we offer—from financial counseling to aging in place resources.”

The new Habitat affiliate expects to retain current staff and all existing board members will be asked to join the new entity’s board. Combining the talents and resources of the three-county area is expected to create a powerful and experienced team, with additional resources to serve the community. The merger will bring operating efficiencies and the new entity expects to deploy financial resources into expanded or new programs and services.

Volunteers are critical to the success of all three local Habitats and will be vital to the continuing success of Greater Rochester Habitat for Humanity. Whether volunteering on a construction site or lending a hand in the ReStore, office or serving on a committee, there will continue to be opportunities to support the mission.

Between now and the merger’s expected effective date January 2nd, the three affiliates will continue to function as independent organizations.