For Daniel and Ennis Laure, being able to buy a home on Long Island was a dream come true. The lore and their three children were renting part of a house in Brentwood. Now, they are looking to settle in a renovated three-bedroom home with garden in Massapequa.
It’s a home that fits their needs that they might not have been able to buy had it not been for the affordable housing program run by the Long Island Housing Partnership.
“It’s a big deal,” said Daniel Laure, 35, a police officer with the NYPD. “We were looking forward to leaving the state, and moving south like a lot of other people. The housing costs here are off limits.”
Lore said the home was valued at $445,000, but the program makes it possible to get a down payment as low as 3%. With a down payment of $7,000, the two borrowers secured financing of about $223,000 toward the agreed-upon price of $230,000. When their move was delayed due to a labor shortage linked to COVID-19, the couple used the time to save on closing costs.
Ines Laure, 35, stays at home with her children and also has a small home business. The housing partnership adapted the Loors’ new home for one of their children, who was born blind and had developmental delays.
The family is happy with their new home. “At first I was looking for rentals, but then I discovered this program,” Daniel Lauer said. “I know Masabica. It’s a great place to live.”
Affordable housing is an ongoing concern on Long Island, where home prices are still buoyed by rising rapidly: in December the median home price in Nassau was $645,000, up 6.6% from 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 out of the market.
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 off the charts.”
Affordable housing can follow a complex set of rules and proportions. Some homes are put into a lottery system, 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 stable job and sufficient funds to pay a down payment and closing costs.
“There are about 650 affordable rental units in 30 projects that monitor LIHP across Long Island,” Elkowitz said. “The housing partnerships are currently marketing 103 units in seven of them,” he added.
Although affordable rent varies by location, one-bedroom apartments typically range from $1,000 to $1,200, and three-bedroom apartments range between $2,000 and $2,900, Elkowitz said. Reasonable rents are just as important as finding a home. In general, there are not a large number of rentals on Long Island and they are quite expensive.
For Debra Zimmerman, HR assistant, finding a rental in Deer Park last year came just in time. After her father passed away in 2020, the house she grew up in and lived in was left to her caretaker, and she needed a job that would be costly. She realized that she could not live there without her father’s pension to help pay for the maintenance of the house.
Zimmerman, 58, applied for rent through the Long Island Housing Partnership, and was soon notified by the housing lottery. She said she eventually acquired an apartment in Sutton Landing in Deer Park for $2,085 a month, about $1,000 less than the market price. Her home has an in-unit washer and dryer, a clubhouse, and a pool, and entertainment events are held throughout the year. And everything was new.
“It was a response to a prayer,” Zimmerman said, adding that her apartment is indistinguishable from unaffordable housing. “But it doesn’t mean I get it for free. There are certain criteria I have to meet, including income requirements. But I love it. I stress myself out every day.”
According to state law, each municipality must establish city codes that require builders to include some type of affordable housing for each development on five homes, with 10% to be allocated to affordable housing. Officials say cities and builders in general are embracing it.
In Mineola, for example, Lalezarian Properties is proposing to increase the affordable apartments in the upscale Morgan Parc building from 27 units to 40 units over the next 18 years in exchange for an additional 10 years of property tax reductions. Units will be eligible for families who make 80% or less of the Long Island median income, which ranges from $66,450 for a single person to $125,000 for a family of eight, according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In Bachoge, affordable housing has become an important part of the village’s transformation into a thriving community.
Copper Beach, a townhouse community, is 50% more affordable housing. Art Space on Main Street, an artists’ complex, contains 45 units for rent at affordable prices. About 160 units in the new River Walk community are also affordable housing units to buy. The building is within walking distance of the Long Island Rail Road station and downtown. Since homes are scattered within the community, and are not categorized as affordable, it is not possible to determine which homes are selling at market price and which are not.
“There is a misconception about affordable housing,” says Bachaug Mayor Paul Pontieri, noting that young couples who start out in affordable housing often move to the housing market in the same community as their income grows, thus staying in the village. “People don’t understand the benefits to society. It was an amazing success.”
John Nelson agrees. He bought a 100-year-old home in the village two years ago under the Long Island Housing Partnership. Once the “zombie house” was overrun with insects and slum dwellers, the house was rehabilitated by the partnership and the village. He was able to purchase the three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath home, which was valued at $368,000, for $215,000.
“I never thought I could buy a house in Bachoge,” said Nelson, 31, a lifelong villager who works on the support team at the Seville School District. “I was renting and saving, looking at a lot of foreclosures to remodel, but I couldn’t stand what I was looking for.”
“A lot of my classmates have left Long Island because they can’t live here,” he said. “I love Long Island, and my dream was to buy a house here.”
Are you eligible?
In most other Long Island towns and municipalities, eligible home ownership income is 80% of average annual income (AMI). The median income in the area fluctuates according to city codes, but is about $72,750 per person, $83,150 for two and $93,950 for three.
Prospective homeowners need to obtain a mortgage and cover the down payment and closing costs. Organizations such as the Long Island Housing Partnership provide help with down payment through partnerships with other organizations, and also offer financial counseling.
Tenants are required to generate sufficient income so that they can pay 30% of that income for rent.
Resale rules are based on years of home ownership, which should be sold as affordable housing, not at market price.
– Stacy Alther