By Guy Santostefano
For most, homeownership is a dream, and for many, it’s also a big challenge.
For some Long Islanders, owning a home seems financially out of reach, but that’s where Community Housing Innovations can help.
The cost of living continues to rise, while home and apartment rental costs make saving to buy a home nearly impossible. Lenders are now requiring larger down payments for many homebuyers — so a buyer seeking to land a modest $250,000 home on Long Island may need $25,000 cash up front, plus another $10,000 in closing costs. Saving $35,000 is not an easy task. But for those who qualify, help is available.
Community Housing Innovations is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-sponsored agency that assists first-time buyers in meeting the challenges of homeownership. From homebuyer education classes to credit counseling, and down payment and closing cost assistance, the company’s staff have the ability, and most importantly, the financial resources to help buyers realize their dream.
Grants earmarked for closing costs and down payments have averaged $25,000. Other programs offered through the nonprofit, in conjunction with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, help a novice buyer arrange special savings accounts geared toward meeting down payment requirements.
“Being able to buy a home allows my children and I to have a sense of permanency and security.”
Andrea Haughton, the director for home ownership at Community Housing innovations, reports that since 1997, 31 homes on Long Island have been purchased through the program, which has bases in Patchogue, Hempstead and White Plains.
For Ru Jurow, a graphic designer living in Farmingville, this program was critical.
A single mom, Jurow has been paying nearly $2,000 a month in rent and utilities for a small home in the Sachem school district.
“I wanted to stay in the same school district, as I have two teen children, both honors students,” she said. “And after 10 years in the same rental, we really needed more space and privacy for the kids.”
Jurow found a charming three bedroom, two bath home one mile from her current rental, and did a search on Google for grant programs for new homebuyers, coming across Community Housing Innovations’ website. She saw she met the requirements, and applied, receiving a $25,000 grant, which she said, must be split with 51 percent going toward renovations and upgrades, and 49 percent going toward closing and other costs.
“Being able to buy a home allows my children and I to have a sense of permanency and security,” Jurow said. “With the purchase of our own home, we can feel pride.”
According to Haughton, the grant is recorded on the home’s title as a second position lien for ten years. This encourages the owner to stay in the house and thus avoid paying penalties. Eligibility guidelines and other key information can be found on the organization’s website, www.chigrants.org, or by visiting their Patchogue offices.
“All three of us are incredibly excited,” Jurow said of her family beginning its new journey. “My daughter has been planning how she will get to decorate her own room and can’t wait to have big sleepover parties with her friends in the finished basement. My son is looking forward to having a work-out room in the basement and I am a huge baker and cannot wait to get into that kitchen and cook up a storm.”