Ministry of Concern says rent increase ‘unsustainable’ for agency to stay at Albion Visitor’s Center

File photo by Tom Rivers: Jami Allport, director of the Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, is shown in September on the third floor of the Albion Visitor’s Center, where the Ministry of Concern is a tenant. The village raised the monthly rent by about $400.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 February 2024 at 3:39 pm

ALBION – The Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern made a plea for the Albion Village Board to back off a 35-percent increase or a hike of about $400 in the monthly rent for the local not-for-profit.

Jami Allport, the GOMOC director, told the Village Board on Thursday the increase is “unsustainable” and will force them to seek another location.

She asked instead for the board to impose a 4 percent increase.

The board raised the rent starting back in Oct. 1 from $1,146.67 to $1,550.96 a month. That amount also includes utilities.

Allport attended a September board meeting and asked that the increase only be 2 percent, the same rate for the other tenants at the Albion Visitor’s Center, a village-owned building at 121 North Main St.

Allport said she asked the board then to let her know if the 35-percent increase would be imposed. She said during the Thursday meeting she didn’t hear back from the board so she assumed GOMOC wouldn’t be charged the higher rent.

But she recently received a delinquency letter from the village, saying GOMOC owes four months at the higher rate, or about $1,600.

Allport said GOMOC is funded through donations and some grants. The higher rent takes away funds for the GOMOC to help people in need, she said.

“We are the agency of last resort,” she said. “We are their last hope.”

The Ministry of Concern uses 2,386 square feet on the third floor of the building. It was previously paying 48 cents a square foot. With the new rate at $1,550.96, the square footage is 65 cents a month.

That is below the $1.65 a foot paid by Assemblyman Steve Hawley for 860 square feet on the first floor ($1,416.77 total); $1.30 by the Orleans Economic Development Agency for 1,686 square feet on the second floor ($2,196.06 total).

Joyce Riley, the deputy mayor, said all of the rates are below market.

“We’re not good landlords because we’re not charging enough,” she said.

The village needs to bring up the GOMOC rate “to respond responsibly to everyone,” she said.

Mayor Angel Javier Jr. said the village is trying to be fair with the rental charges.

“We can’t give it away for free,” he said.

Allport responded that GOMOC isn’t looking for free rent, and is amenable to paying more, perhaps a 2 to 4 percent increase.

Village Trustee Tim McMurray suggested the rate increase just be 5 percent, which would still be $57.33 more a month and keep GOMOC as a tenant. Pushing them out with a big increase would leave the village with no rental income from that space, McMurray said. He also said GOMOC as a non-profit shouldn’t be assessed such a big increase.

The board discussed the issue more in executive session and decided to keep the 35 percent increase intact.