Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (8th Senate District), along with Long Island’s nine-member New York State Senate Delegation, recently unveiled a new, $25 million program to increase access to affordable housing on Long Island. The Homeownership and Economic Stabilization for Long Island Program ("HELP") provides downpayment assistance and rehabilitation grants to eligible homebuyers. HELP will be funded by Long Island’s State Senators and administered by the Long Island Housing Partnership.
"Many individuals who grew up on Long Island and want to stay here are forced to move away because housing is too expensive. HELP will deliver substantial assistance to young families and help them realize the dream of owning their own home. This new public-private partnership represents a joint investment in Long Island's future," said Senator Fuschillo.
HELP will offer three key forms of assistance:
State Employer Downpayment Assistance Matching Grant
HELP provides a 3-to-1 state match for any downpayment assistance programs created by Long Island businesses. To be eligible for state matching funds, employers with fewer than 50 employees must provide a minimum contribution of $3,000, with the minimum for larger businesses rising to $5,000. The total downpayment assistance package cannot exceed $40,000 ($30,000 state, $10,000 employer) and the appraised value of the purchased home cannot exceed Long Island’s median home price (currently $450,000).
State Housing Rehabilitation Grants
HELP provides homebuyers with up to $20,000 in additional funding for necessary repairs and the rehabilitation of existing homes.
Local Workforce Housing Incentive
To encourage smart-growth policies in local government, HELP provides downpayment assistance in those municipalities that create "workforce" housing and revitalize downtown areas. Under HELP’s Smart Growth Development for Workforce Housing incentive, any developer who works with a municipality to provide workforce housing in downtown areas and hamlet centers in accordance with "Smart Growth" principles can obtain a project set aside of up to $25,000 per home to be contributed towards the homebuyer’s downpayment. The sale price of each workforce unit cannot exceed three times the median income on Long Island for a family of four, which currently amounts to $273,000.
"Smart Growth" development may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following components: mixed-use development to increase economic activity in downtown areas or hamlet centers through the integration of commercial and residential land use; location near transportation hubs to utilize existing infrastructure and create "walkable" neighborhoods; compact building design as an alternative to conventional, sprawling development; and inclusionary zoning to create a range of housing opportunities.
Most existing affordable housing programs limit participation to individuals and families with incomes 80%, or less, of the median. Unfortunately, Long Island’s median home price is now more than five times its median income. As a result, homeownership has become unaffordable for families at, or above, the region’s median income. To address this problem, individuals and families earning up to 130% of Long Island’s median income qualify for HELP. This includes singles earning up to $82,800 and families of four with annual incomes of $118,300.
The program will begin on January 1, 2007.
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