5 families picked in affordable homes lottery

Yolanda Ratcliff, of Brooklyn, is presented with an Yolanda Ratcliff, of Brooklyn, is presented with an American flag and a fresh baked apple pie with the address of her new home.(July 2, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

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When their apartment was flooded and sustained water damage during superstorm Sandy, Sharif Fordham and his fiancee, Michelle Bostick, didn't go back, but moved in with a friend until they found a rental apartment in Inwood.

Now they plan to move again, not back to Far Rockaway but to a new home to be built a short distance away. They and four other families were selected Tuesday from among nine candidates in the Town of Hempstead's Affordable Homes Lottery held at the Rock Hall Museum there and given the chance to buy a new house for $172,000 -- about half of the market price -- in Inwood.

"We feel super-excited and blessed," said Bostick, 34, whose family includes five children, ages 3 to 17.

The other winners, who would all be first-time homeowners, are Patricia Smith of Inwood, Maria Allen of Uniondale, Robert and Kimberly McHale of Lawrence, and Yolanda Ratcliff of Brooklyn.

The McHales, who live with their four children, ages 6 to 16, said they will be glad to move to a bigger house but stay in the area.

"My kids grew up here, I was raised over here, and we wanted to stay here," Robert McHale, 37, said.

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Each winner, whose name on a ping-pong ball was drawn randomly from a receptacle, has the opportunity to buy a 1,715-square-foot house worth more than $300,000 at market value in Inwood, a mixed residential and commercial community, town officials said. Three homes will be on Walcott Avenue, one on Jeanette Avenue and another on Monroe Street. Construction will start in August and end between December and next March.

"It gives folks who otherwise wouldn't get into the home-buying market a piece of the American dream," Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray said.

Those chosen are educated about financial solvency, Murray said.

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Residents of Inwood had first priority in the lottery, followed by Town of Hempstead residents, Nassau County residents and those from other areas.

Winners can't sell the house for 10 years and will pay graduated taxes that increase 5 percent each year for 10 years. Because applicants are prequalified, they go through the usual mortgage process, town officials said.

Ratcliff, 39, will live in one of the houses with her two children, ages 13 and 18. "It's one of the happiest days of my life . . .," she said. "It's overwhelming, to be from Brooklyn, coming to the suburbs."

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