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PEP Dec. 2006
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Public Employee Press

Municipal Employees Housing Program

1st anniversary for union housing program


MEHP has helped 1,100 members get housing and disbursed $20 million in mortgage loans. From left: Donovan, DC 37’s Henry Garrido, Ms. Roberts, NHS Dir. Sarah Gerecke, Nikki and Gerald Horton and L.1482 Pres. Eileen Muller.

By DIANE S. WILLIAMS

District Council 37 celebrated the one-year anniversary of its groundbreaking Municipal ­Employees Housing Program with city Housing Commissioner Shaun Donovan at union headquarters Oct. 25.

“We dared to dream outside the box to help our members find affordable housing,” said Executive Director Lillian Roberts, who welcomed guests to DC 37’s house. “This program has far exceeded our expectations. I am pleased so many of our members are using MEHP to get a piece of the rock and achieve the American Dream of home ownership.”

Roberts wrote Mayor Michael Bloomberg in January 2005 concerning the affordable housing crisis and the residency requirements DC 37 members had to meet to maintain employment.

Her letter sparked a series of meetings with the mayor and commissioner from which MEHP developed.

MEHP opened its doors to DC 37 members as the first and most comprehensive housing initiative in the nation that pairs labor, the Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development with Neighborhood Housing Services, a nonprofit organization, and the sponsor, Amalgamated Bank.

“This program speaks volumes about New York City after 9/11, that we are a vital city again and that millions of people flock here to make New York City their home,” said Donovan. The housing challenge is not just for the city’s low income families, he said, but also for middle-income and working families to be able to stay in New York.


Commissioner Shaun Donovan gives Gerald Horton a tool box for his new home.

MEHP opens doors
“We have to help the workers who make this city run,” Donavan said. “We have to keep the best and the brightest who work for the city in the city.”

MEHP offers counseling, mortgages and “a pot of gold,” down payment grants through FirstHome to qualified DC 37 members, who receive, on average, about $20,000 in mortgage assistance. To date, around 1,100 DC 37 members have participated in some aspect of the program.

“This is the best example of the city and labor working together,” Donovan said. “MEHP has opened doors for DC 37 members and allowed them to dream bigger for themselves,” Roberts said. “It helps members meet the challenge of finding decent and affordable housing in one of the most expensive cities in the world.”

 

 
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