By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Over 1,000 union members found the key to homeownership at DC 37’s annual housing fair July 30, where a dozen housing experts were on hand to share advice on the ABCs of affordable housing.
“The turnout and success of this fair and of the Municipal Employees Housing Program is impressive,” said Robert Ajaye, DC 37 Housing Committee chair and president of Local 2627. “To date we have helped members obtain over $100 million in mortgages. Not one person has been foreclosed on, which speaks to the program’s success.”
The program offers financial counseling to help members qualify for loans and grants to buy one-to four-family homes and apartments in New York City and surrounding counties.
The daylong affordable housing fair is a one-stop shopping opportunity for union members looking to buy into the American Dream of homeownership.
Members met realtors, representatives from about 10 participating banks, budget counselors and home inspectors at the union housing program, which celebrated 12 successful years. Seminars at the event were standing room only.
“Although some of the members’ incomes are not the highest, we have many successful stories of new homeownership,” said Ruth Peña, the program director. “We are committed to helping our members achieve their dreams of homeownership, and we are there every step of the process. We provide education, affordable loans, down payment assistance, and partner with the Neighborhood Housing Services and several lenders.”
Over 1,400 successes
To date the Municipal Employees Housing Program has closed 1,439 property loans totaling $110 million for co-operative apartments, condominiums and houses. The majority of members used MELS, DC 37’s Municipal Employees Legal Services plan, to close on housing purchases.
“We are trying to address the serious affordable housing crisis affecting our members,” said Ajaye. “We live in one of the most expensive cities in America. Rents are steadily rising. We’re working on real solutions through this program to help members find decent housing. We also are helping those who are homeless and in shelters find permanent housing. It’s a protracted process but worthwhile.”
For more information about what services the Municipal Employees Housing Program may provide for you, please call 212-815-1814.
This originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Public Employee Press.