Wendy St. Laurent heard her named called inside Islip Town Hall Tuesday and simultaneously smiled and shed tears.
St. Laurent, 34, of Central Islip, was one of 10 winners in a lottery that will give her and her husband, Silvio Ribera, an opportunity at home ownership. "This is a dream for me and my family," she said.
The Town of Islip's Community Development Agency Tuesday held the 20-entrants housing lottery, part of its affordable housing program that helps qualified people become first-time homeowners.
The HUD-funded program has matched more than 1,100 would-be-homeowners with low-interest mortgages for rehabilitated or newly constructed homes since the town's CDA started holding lotteries in the mid-1980s, said Paul Fink, the executive director. "This is really one of our favorite things to see," Fink said. "It helps the families as well as the neighborhoods."
The vigorous application process ensures home buyers qualify for the program, which requires a minimum $47,000 annual household income and "acceptable" credit.
The 10 homes the CDA purchased were either in foreclosure or uninhabitable. The majority were rehabbed or rebuilt by private construction companies using federal funding, while two others were designed and constructed by the United Way of Long Island, officials said. The homes are valued between $175,000 to $250,000.
Deputy Supervisor Trish Bergin Weichbrodt and Councilman Steven J. Flotteron took turns calling the names.
"This is a very proud day," said Bergin Weichbrodt. "We look forward to helping you into the American dream."
St. Laurent, a supervisor at a manufacturing plant who emigrated from Bolivia in 2003, described her feelings following the lottery win as "happy, excited, emotional."
Richard Steutterman, 27, of Islip, also won yesterday's lottery. "It's still very hard for me personally to find an affordable house," said Steutterman, who earns about $58,000 annually working at a tent company. "This program offers the best of both worlds -- a new house in new condition."