Our Founder & History

Our Founder, Nelson Leenhouts, has spent 52 years in the real estate business. In 1967, Nelson, along with his twin brother, Norman, founded Home Leasing Corporation. For over 25 years, they grew Home Leasing Corporation into a substantial real estate business with a diversified portfolio of single-family homes, apartments, and commercial properties. In 1994, they put their apartment portfolio into Home Properties, which became a successful publicly traded company which grew to over 50,000 rental apartments in twelve states, including 10,000 affordable apartments. From 1994 until 2003, Nelson and Norman served as chief executives of Home Properties.

After stepping away from Home Properties, Nelson and Norman each turned their attentions to their respective privately owned family companies. Nelson’s family retained the name, “Home Leasing” and focused their business on the affordable housing industry.

As a result, Home Leasing LLC was formed in 2003 to develop and manage quality, affordable housing. Home Leasing Construction LLC was established in 2008 to coordinate and manage all construction services for Home Leasing projects as well as for third party partners. Both companies are guided by the mission to “improve the lives of our residents and the communities in which we work.”

To solidify their long-term commitment to their mission, Home Leasing and Home Leasing Construction each went through a rigorous assessment process in 2017 to become Certified Benefit Corporations (B Corps) and have maintained that certification since. B Corps are for-profit companies that meet high standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability.

The company employs over two hundred people with its central offices located in downtown Rochester, New York. Three generations of the Leenhouts family participate in the oversight and operation of the companies.

In 2019, Bret Garwood succeeded Nelson as Chief Executive Officer of both companies after joining as Chief Operating Officer in 2017. Under Garwood’s leadership, Home Leasing has expanded its reach and has also established an office in Albany.

In 2020, a Board of Directors was formed with the goal of ensuring the long-term success of both companies. Cathy Sperrick, Nelson’s daughter, who has held various leadership positions within the company, succeeded Nelson as Chairman of the Board in January 2022. Also on the Board is Jeff Leenhouts, Nelson’s son, who serves as Vice Chairman. Sarah Struzzi, Nelson’s granddaughter, is the Senior Vice President of Property Management and Operations and Megan Houppert, also Nelson’s granddaughter, is the Vice President of Development.