Families staying at LI through program for affordable housing

For Daniel and Ines Loor, it was a dream to afford a house on Long Island. The Loors and their three children rented part of a house in Brentwood. Now they are settling into a renovated three-bedroom house with lawn in Massapequa.

It is a home that suits their needs that they probably would not have been able to buy if not for the affordable housing program run by the Long Island Housing Partnership.

“It’s a big deal,” said Daniel Loor, 35, a NYPD police officer. “We were looking to leave the state, move south like many other people. Housing costs here are through the roof.”

The home was valued at $ 445,000, but the program allows for a down payment of as little as 3%. With a payout of $ 7,000, Loors received a funding of around $ 223,000. When their move was delayed due to COVID-19 labor-related shortage, the couple used the time to save up for closing costs.

Ines Loor, 35, stays at home with her children and also has a small home business. The housing association adapted Loor’s new house to one of their children, who was born blind and has a developmental disability.

The family is happy with their new home. “At first I was looking for leases, but then I found out about this program,” Daniel Loor said. “I know Massapequa. It’s a great place to stay.”

An ongoing need

Affordable housing is a persistent concern on Long Island, where house prices are still rising at a high rate: In December, the average house price for Nassau was $ 645,000, an increase of 6.6% over the same period in 2020; and in Suffolk it was $ 525,000, an increase of 9.4% according to OneKey MLS. This increase has left many working people out of the market.

“These are your medical technicians at the hospital, the people who take care of our lawns who feed our children,” said Peter Elkowitz, president of the Long Island Housing Partnership, which serves Nassau and Suffolk counties. “We are busier than ever. The demand for affordable housing is out of the charts.”

Affordable housing can follow a complex set of rules and conditions. Some homes are put into a lottery system and others are found through county foreclosures and then rehabilitated, but all follow income guidelines for eligibility that vary by local municipality. To be eligible, one must have permanent employment and enough money for a payout and closing costs.

There are about 650 affordable rental units in 30 developments spread across Long Island. Although affordable rent varies by location, one-bedroom apartments typically cost $ 1,000 to $ 1,200, and three-bedroom costs between $ 2,000 and $ 2,900, Elkowitz said. The housing partnership is monitoring 103 units in seven developments, he said. Affordable rents are just as important as finding home ownership. In general, Long Island does not have a high number of leases and tends to be expensive.

For Debra Zimmerman, a staff assistant, it was just in time to find a lease in Deer Park last year. After her father’s death in 2020, the home she grew up in and lived in as his caretaker was left to her and needed work that would be expensive. She realized she could not afford to live there without her father’s pension to help pay the cost of keeping the home.

Zimmerman, 58, applied for rent through the Long Island Housing Partnership, and was soon notified by the housing lottery. She eventually got an apartment at Sutton Landing in Deer Park for $ 2,085 a month, about $ 1,000 less than the market price, she said. Her home has an in-unit washer and dryer, a clubhouse, pool and recreational events held throughout the year. And everything was new.

“It was an answer to a prayer,” Zimmerman said, adding that her apartment is indistinguishable from unaffordable housing. “But it’s not like I get it for free. There are certain criteria I had to meet, including income requirements. But I love it. I pinch myself every day.”

Government support

According to state law, each municipality must come up with city codes that require builders to include some form of affordable housing for every development over 10 homes. In general, cities and builders are embracing it, officials say.

In Mineola, for example, Lalezarian Properties is proposing to increase affordable apartments in the exclusive Morgan Parc building from 27 units to 40 over the next 18 years in return for a further 10-year property tax cut. The units would be eligible for families earning 80% or less of Long Island’s median income, ranging from $ 66,450 for one person to $ 125,000 for a family of eight, according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In Patchogue, affordable housing has become an important part of the village’s transformation into a thriving community.

Copper Beach, a townhouse community, is about 50% affordable housing. Art Space on Main Street, a dedicated complex for artists, has all 45 units dedicated to affordable rentals. About 160 units in the new River Walk community are also affordable condominiums to buy. The building is within walking distance to Long Island Rail Road station and downtown. Because the homes are scattered around the community and not labeled as affordable, it is not possible to say which homes are sold at market price and which are not.

“There’s a misconception about affordable housing,” says Patchogue mayor Paul Pontieri, noting that a young couple starting in affordable housing will often move to marketplace housing in the same community as their income grows and therefore stays in the village. . “People do not understand the benefits to society. It has been an astonishing success.”

John Nelson agrees. He bought a 100-year-old home in the village two years ago under the Long Island Housing Partnership. Once a “zombie house” flooded with pests and squatters, the home was rehabilitated by the partnership and the village. He was able to buy a three-bedroom, 1-bedroom home, which had been valued at $ 368,000, for $ 215,000.

“I never thought I could afford a house in Patchogue,” said Nelson, 31, a lifelong villager who is on the staff of Sayville School District. “I rented and saved up and looked at a lot of foreclosures to remodel, but I just could not afford what I was looking for.”

“Many of my classmates left Long Island because they could not afford to live here,” he said. “I love Long Island and it was my dream to afford a house here.”

Are you eligible?

In most cities and other municipalities on Long Island, the income for eligible home ownership is 80% of the annual median income (AMI). The area’s median income fluctuates according to city codes, but is around $ 72,750 for a single person, $ 83,150 for two people and $ 93,950 for three.

Potential homeowners should have a mortgage and cover the down payment and closing costs. Organizations such as the Long Island Housing Partnership offer payout assistance through partnerships with other organizations and also offer financial advice.

Tenants are required to earn enough income so that they can afford to pay 30% of this income against the rent. So someone who earns $ 50,000 a year can afford about $ 1,500 in rent.

Rules on resale are based on years of ownership of the home, which is to be sold as affordable housing, not at market price.

– STACEY ALTHERR

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