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  Public Employee Press

PEP Dec 2006
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Municipal Employees Housing Program

Call them homeowners

“Co-ops 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.


It figures 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 union’s 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 I’d 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 37’s 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 city’s affordable housing crisis sparked the program’s 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.

Pictured above is the building’s main entrance and below is their living room.

Decide what’s 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 Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

While the cost of a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op in Manhattan can be astronomical, the Horton’s 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 Horton’s were fast tracked for classes at a daylong seminar at Neighborhood Housing Services, one of the program’s partners, where they learned the importance of homeowner’s insurance, and how to avoid predatory lenders and inflated closing costs. With help from a MELS attorney, the Horton’s 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.”





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