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Theodora Finnfinn-theodora

President, Greater Rochester Housing Partnership

Years in current role: 4

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy the collaborative nature of my role. The projects we develop and finance occur through collaboration of our team with many different kinds of partners (including government, community organizations, developers, contractors, lenders, architects, consultants, attorneys, and realtors). Each of these partners brings passion and expertise to the process and their unique contributions are part of a bigger puzzle.

I also really enjoy the results of our work. We transform places (whether through renovating blighted buildings or building new housing) into assets that are both beautiful and serve a meaningful purpose in our community and in the lives of individuals and families.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?

The biggest challenge both personally and professionally has been managing through the uncertainty of the evolving pandemic. Like many businesses, we implemented remote working almost overnight. Fortunately, affordable housing construction was deemed “essential” early on, which meant our development projects could continue. However, we had to swiftly get a handle on and implement new COVID protocols and procedures for jobsites. The pandemic created a lot of uncertainty about how our projects would perform. There were some minor timing delays and many jobs suffered from material shortages and price increases. Our team and partners rallied through all of this and the impact was minimized.

What do you see as the biggest changes in the real estate and construction industries in the next 3-5 years?

In the affordable housing space, I think we will see more programs and financing tools that promote the goals of racial equity and inclusion as well as sustainability in terms of energy efficiency and green building. Also, the local real estate market in Rochester has changed — real estate prices have increased dramatically and I think these pricing trends will have a sustained impact on housing costs. These trends make access to homeownership that much more challenging for low- and middle-income people. I think some of the construction cost increases we have seen due to COVID could unfortunately be here to stay for the next 3-5 years. There will also be impacts on the real estate market when the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums are ended.

What community organizations do you support as a volunteer and why?

I serve on the Boards of the Urban League of Rochester and the Urban League of Rochester Economic Development Corporation; Partners Ending Homelessness; and the Monroe County Vacant Property Advisory Committee. I also serve on a handful of committees of local housing and community development organizations. I serve these organizations because I believe in their missions; they all have tangible, positive impacts, and I can use my knowledge and experience to support them.

What are you most looking forward to doing as COVID restrictions ease?

I’m looking forward to so many things from pre-COVID days! As a family, we have spent a lot of time in nature this past year and we will continue to do this as restrictions ease. However, I’m looking forward to a more balanced existence and to feeling energized by the pre-COVID activities I took for granted. I’m looking forward to celebrating holidays and birthdays with extended family and friends; eating out at my favourite restaurants; going to the movies, concerts, and parties. I look forward to taking day trips to Canada, the Finger Lakes, and to travel in general. I’m looking forward to my daughter being able to experience a more free and easy childhood and seeing mask-free smiles.

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