Public Employee Press
Municipal Employees Housing Program
Seminar keys members in on affordable
About 500 members attended the unions Municipal Employees
Housing Program seminar Sept. 14.
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
More than 500 members filled DC 37s house Sept. 14 for a seminar
on the unions new Municipal Employees Housing Program. MEHP financial
consultants began holding one-on-one interviews with members on Sept.
The response has been overwhelming, but were here to walk
you through the home buying process and get you closer to achieving the
American Dream, said DC 37 Assistant Associate Director Henry Garrido,
who organized the event.
What began in January with a letter from DC 37 Executive Director Lillian
Roberts to Mayor Mike Bloomberg explaining the pressing need for affordable
housing for DC 37 members, whose employment is conditioned on city residency,
has resulted in a unique and unprecedented housing preference program
for city employees.
We support Mayor Bloomberg because he thinks outside the box,
said Roberts, who explained that the programs housing set-aside
was not part of contract bargaining. Working with Housing Commissioner
Shaun Donovan, DC 37 drew in experts to develop a program that would address
the affordable housing issue for municipal employees. MEHP was formed
so members could access affordable rental apartments or realize the dream
of homeownership, Roberts said. The point is not to rush into a
home purchase, but to be prepared. Thats where this program comes
Noemi Vega (l.) and Tracey Bamfield Lewis of NHS will prep
DC 37 members for homebuying.
Partnership with HPD, NHS
MEHPs partners, the city Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development
Dept. and Neighborhood Housing Services, a nonprofit group, gave members
information on counseling services, credit ratings, homeownership, available
grants, low interest rehabilitation or renovation loans, predatory lending
and more. The seminar included a question-and-answer session with the
Rubin Wolf, director of Neighborhood Resources at HPD, explained
the housing lottery process and how the 5 percent set-aside Roberts won
for city employees will work. DC 37 members in certain jobs may have to
obtain a letter of non-conflict of interest to qualify for the lottery.
For more information about apartments available by lottery, call HPD at
212-863-5610, or 212-863-5620 in Spanish. Lotteries do not take place
at DC 37, but at different community sites.
MEHP, which is located in Room 534 of DC 37 headquarters, is a one-stop
service where, by scheduled appointment, DC 37 members can receive information
and counseling about grants toward the purchase of a condominium, co-op
apartment or a single to four-family home in designated neighborhoods
throughout New York City.
The program will have two full-time financial counselors, Noemi Vega and
Tracey Bamfield Lewis, from NHS. Introduced to participants Sept. 14,
they will get members in better financial shape for homeownership and
help qualified applicants obtain mortgage loans through one of 11 lenders
including JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of New York, Bank of America,
DC 37 Executive Director
Assistant Associate Director
Grants, loans and lotteries
The HPDs HomeFirst Down Payment Assistance program offers forgivable
grants of $10,000 or 6 percent of the purchase price, whichever is more,
to qualified first time homebuyers.
HomeFirst and the HPD lottery have income requirements. In most cases,
the maximum is 80 percent of an areas median income or $50,250 for
a family of four, and $35,000 for a single person.
MEHP counselors will walk qualified DC 37 members through the home buying
and inspection process and MELS, the unions legal services unit,
will in most cases provide a lawyer to handle the contract and closing.
MEHP can even help members who are already in the process of buying a
home. MEHP can expedite the process to see whether the buyer qualifies
for grants or a better mortgage interest rate through a participating
The union will hold seminars periodically, please check future issues
of PEP or call MEHP at 212-815-1814. More information on MEHP is available
online at www.dc37.net.
The new union program is designed to help members get housing they can
afford. We are not here to help people become rich landlords,
said HPD Director of Homeownership Assistance Mike Abel. Know where
to put your money. Cars depreciate. Rent the car, buy the house.