Municipal Employees Housing Program
10 steps to affordable housing
MEHP Counselor Tracey Bamfield Lewis offers one-on-one
counseling to Truong Strock, a DC 37 retiree, who with her sister,
a DC 37 member who works for the Dept. of Health, hopes for a
loan to buy a Mitchell-Lama co-op apartment.
By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
The Municipal Employees Housing Program is a free, one-stop service that
offers DC 37 members a chance at affordable housing in New York City,
whether a member is interested in renting an apartment or in buying a
house, condominium or co-op.
The program began with a letter to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg from DC
37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts last January asking that more affordable
housing be made available to
DC 37 members, who must meet city residency requirements as a condition
With cooperation from the mayor and city Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan,
her request resulted in an unprecedented 5 percent affordable housing
preference for all city
Today the city Housing, Preservation and Development Dept., the nonprofit
homeownership organization Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), and DC
37 have formed the Municipal Employees Housing Program, which provides
free one-on-one counseling as well as grant and loan information at no
cost to DC 37 members.
The 10 steps of the MEHP program
Step 1: Decide if you really want to move and whether you would
like to rent an apartment or buy a home, condominium or co-op apartment.
If you would like to rent, call the HPD hotline at 212-863-5610, or 212-863-5620
in Spanish, for information about lotteries for new or renovated rental
units. Be sure to mail in the completed HPD application by their set deadline,
and include a check for the HPD application fee. Please specify that you
are a municipal employee.
If you wish to purchase a home, condo or co-op with the assistance of
your union, you must register for a MEHP seminar by calling 212-815-1814.
Step 2: Attend an MEHP seminar and complete the application. Be
sure to provide the following information: income, credit, and savings.
MEHP counselors review applications and contact members for appointments
based on the information provided.
For your appointment please bring W-2s and tax returns for the last two
years, the last two pay stubs, and credit card and bank statements for
the last two months. The MEHP counselor will create a profile and obtain
a credit report at no cost to DC 37 members.
DC 37 members who are in contract to purchase a home should call 212-815-1814
and ask to speak to an MEHP counselor.
Members in contract can come in person to the MEHP program, in Room 534
at union headquarters. Please bring a copy of the contract.
Step 3: If your credit is good (credit score: 640 to 700), or excellent
(700 or above) with some savings, job stability and longevity, the MEHP
counselor will contact you by letter with an appointment for a free MEHP
Homebuyers Seminar. The Home-buyers Seminar is a group class where DC
37 members receive information about special HomeFirst grants and available
If you qualify for a HomeFirst grant by meeting its income restrictions,
HomeFirst will provide up to 6 percent or $20,000 toward the down payment
and/ or closing costs for properties in the five boroughs only. No fees
are associated with this grant, and you should not pay anyone to help
get this grant.
If the MEHP counselor determines that you need credit counseling (a credit
score below 640), you will be referred to an MEHP class at union headquarters.
The class is designed to help DC 37 members clean up their credit history
and improve credit scores. Once this course is completed, you will be
scheduled for the MEHP Homebuyers Seminar.
Step 4: After completing the MEHP Homebuyers Seminar, MEHP will
provide you with a general pre-qualification letter from participating
lenders in DC 37s program.
Step 5: With the pre-qualification letter, you can shop for a new
home, condo or co-op.
Step 6: Once you have an accepted offer on a property, you should
contact MEHP for an appointment to complete a mortgage loan application
with one of the 10 banks in the DC 37 MEHP program.
Participating lenders are:
Astoria Federal Savings
Bank of America
Bank of NY Mortgage Co.
JP Morgan Chase
M & T Mortgage Corp.
Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Co.
Step 7: You should also find a real estate lawyer or call DC 37s
Municipal Employees Legal Service at 212-815-1111 for a real estate attorney,
who, at no cost to you, will review the contract and submit the down payment
with the executed (signed) contract.
Step 8: Have the property inspected.
Step 9: Contact your attorney to arrange the closing date.
Step 10: Move in!