Dale Samuel with wife Brittany and son Jordan Samuel in front of...

Dale Samuel with wife Brittany and son Jordan Samuel in front of their home in Middle Island. They received grants to help fund the down payment and pay for upgrades. Credit: Morgan Campbell/Morgan Campbell

A nonprofit housing group is inviting Long Island first-time homebuyers with low or moderate incomes to apply for grants of up to $35,000 to cover down payments and repairs.

Community Housing Innovations is accepting applications for the grants, backed by $1 million in funding from the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation.

The grants are available to families with incomes up to about $113,000 for a family of four. Income limits vary according to family size. The funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

To qualify, applicants must attend a free orientation and homebuyer education class, qualify for a mortgage, contribute 3% of the purchase price and be ready to buy within two months of receiving the grant, according to Community Housing Innovations, which has offices in Patchogue and Westchester.

Buyers must live in the one-family house, condominium or co-op for at least 10 years in order to avoid paying back some or all of the grant funds. Slightly more than half the grant funds must be spent on repairs and rehabilitation.

"The pandemic has seen prices increase all over Long Island, making it even less affordable for working families," Alexander Roberts, special adviser for Community Housing Innovations and former executive director of the group, said in a statement. "This down payment assistance certainly comes at the right time."

The group has provided more than $17 million in down payment assistance grants to about 750 first-time homebuyers on Long Island and in Westchester County.

LI couple's path to homeownership

Among the previous grant recipients are Dale Samuel, 27, an information technology technician, and his wife Brittany, 25, a bookkeeper at an accounting firm. The couple were living in a small apartment in Patchogue in 2018 when they found out they were expecting a child.

Eager to buy a home that would give them more space, the Samuels launched an intensive search for help for first-time homebuyers.

An internet search led them to Community Housing Innovations, and they soon started attending the group’s online class for first-time homebuyers and putting together the required budget.

"The whole program is great," Dale Samuel said. "They helped us through every step of it, we knew nothing about buying a home at all, we really didn't know where to start."

By July 2019, they had purchased a three-bedroom town house in Middle Island for $220,000, using a $12,000 grant to help fund the down payment and a $14,000 grant to pay for rehabilitation work that included replacing the roof and upgrading a bathroom. They moved in about three weeks before their son Jordan was born.

Previously, Brittany Samuel said, they had been worried that their landlady might sell the property where they were living, since the landlady had told them her children were urging her to do so.

"You really have that instability of, like, ‘What if she decides to sell the house?’ " Brittany Samuel said. "It's just nice knowing that we have a nice place, we have enough space and it's ours to call our home and make it our own."

For more information, call 631-475-6390 or go to nwsdy.li/grants.

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