Public Employee Press
Municipal Employees Housing Program
Call them homeowners
are an affordable alternative to owning a private house," said Gerald Horton,
who, with wife, Nikki, purchased a two-bedroom apartment in the Fordham area.
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
that a computer savvy technician like Gerald Horton would find his new Bronx co-op
on Craigslist.org, a free Internet advertising service. And like a growing number
of DC 37 members, he was able to buy that apartment with help from the unions
Municipal Employees Housing Program.
I have been praying, dreaming
and saving for this for the last two years. When I saw the article in the PEP,
I told my wife we have to give it a chance. I knew one day Id own a home
in New York, the Trinidad native and Local 1482 member said. I just
did not know it would come through my union.
MEHP, DC 37s
innovative housing program, aids DC 37 members who are first-time homebuyers with
FirstHome grants, credit repair, counseling and refinancing and mortgages from
10 different lenders to purchase one-to-four family homes, condominiums and cooperative
apartments. A letter from DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts to Mayor Michael
Bloomberg in January 2005 about the citys affordable housing crisis sparked
the programs development.
I am so thankful Ms. Roberts wrote
that letter, Horton told union leaders, city Housing Commissioner Shaun
Donovan and well-wishers at the MEHP anniversary celebration Oct. 25.
Horton researched home buying on the Internet, contacted MEHP and checked other
information about credit scores and loan qualification online.
above is the buildings main entrance and below is their living room.
Decide whats important
Horton is a Technology Support Representative at Brooklyn Public Library at Grand
Army Plaza and a member of Local 1482. His wife, Nikki, works in Chelsea and his
two daughters attend school on Manhattans Upper West Side.
the cost of a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op in Manhattan can be astronomical, the
Hortons found one with similar amenities in a well-kept building in the
Fordham section of the Bronx. We decided what was important, Horton
said. His list of must-haves included not having to change our daughters
school; the affordability of co-op rather than a private house; finding a co-op
with maintenance costs that included most utilities in a building where most units
are owned and not rented, Horton explained.
We have good
credit scores because we pay our bills on time, but we did not have money for
a down payment, he said. MEHP helped with two grants, $10,000 from FirstHome
and $3,500 in closing costs from the lender.
The Hortons were
fast tracked for classes at a daylong seminar at Neighborhood Housing Services,
one of the programs partners, where they learned the importance of homeowners
insurance, and how to avoid predatory lenders and inflated closing costs. With
help from a MELS attorney, the Hortons closed and moved into their cozy
co-op in September.
I am so thankful to my union for this program,
he said. It has truly been a blessing to my family.