Families staying on LI through affordable housing program

For Daniel and Ines Loor, being able to afford a home on Long Island was a dream. The Loors and their three children rented part of a house in Brentwood. Now they can’t wait to move into a renovated three-bedroom house with a lawn in Massapequa.

It’s a home that meets their needs that they probably wouldn’t have been able to buy without the affordable housing program run by Long Island Housing Partnership.

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

The house was appraised at $445,000, but the program allows for a down payment as low as 3%. With a down payment of $7,000, the Loors secured financing of approximately $223,000. When their move was delayed due to labor shortages related to COVID-19, the couple took advantage of the time to save on closing costs.

Ines Loor, 35, stays at home with her children and also has a small home-based business. The housing partnership adapted the Loors’ new home for one of their children, who was born blind and has developmental delays.

The family is happy with their new home. “At first I was looking for rentals, but I found this program,” said Daniel Loor. “I know Massapequa. It’s a good place to live.”

A constant need

Affordable housing is an ongoing concern on Long Island, where home prices are still supported at high speed: in December, the median home price in Nassau was $645,000, an increase of 6.6% compared to the same period in 2020; and in Suffolk it was $525,000, an increase of 9.4%, according to OneKey MLS. This rise has left many workers excluded from the market.

“It’s your medics 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 this world.”

Affordable housing can follow a complex set of rules and ratios. Some homes are placed in 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 considered, one must have a steady job and enough money for a down payment and closing costs.

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

For Debra Zimmerman, human resources assistant, finding a rental in Deer Park last year came at just the right time. After her father died in 2020, the house she grew up in and lived in as a caretaker was left to her and needed some expensive work. She realized that she could not afford to live there without her father’s pension to help pay for the upkeep of the house.

Zimmerman, 58, applied for a rental 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. His home has an in-unit washer and dryer, clubhouse, pool, and recreational events are 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

By state law, each municipality must come up with municipal codes that require builders to include some type 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 the number of affordable apartments in the high-end Morgan Parc building from 27 to 40 units over the next 18 years in exchange for an additional 10 years of tax abatement. land. The homes would be eligible for families earning 80% or less of Long Island’s median income, which ranges 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 transforming the village into a thriving community.

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

“There is a misconception about affordable housing,” says Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri, noting that a young couple starting out in affordable housing will often move to market housing in the same community as their incomes rise. will increase, and will therefore remain in the village. “People don’t understand the benefits to the community. It’s been incredibly successful.”

John Nelson would agree. He bought a century-old home in the village two years ago through the Long Island Housing Partnership. Once a “zombie house” overrun with vermin and squatters, the house has been rehabilitated by the partnership and the village. He was able to buy the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bedroom home, which had been appraised 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 Sayville School District support staff. “I was renting and saving, and considering a lot of foreclosures to renovate, but I just couldn’t afford what I was looking for.”

“A lot of my classmates left Long Island because they couldn’t afford to live here,” he said. “I love Long Island, and it was my dream to afford a home here.”

Are you eligible?

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

Future owners must obtain a mortgage and cover the down payment and closing costs. Organizations such as Long Island Housing Partnership offer down payment assistance through partnerships with other organizations, as well as financial counseling.

Tenants are required to earn enough income to be able to pay 30% of that income for rent.

Resale rules are based on years of ownership of the home, which must be sold as an affordable home, not at market price.

— STACEY ALTERR

Ryan H. Bowman