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Long Island

LI to get $5M to rehab foreclosure properties

Several homes on Willow Street in Central Islip

Several homes on Willow Street in Central Islip are boarded up after being foreclosed. (Dec. 9, 2008) Photo Credit: Alan Raia

Long Island will get at least $5 million more to buy and rehab vacant foreclosures in the latest round of federal funding for neighborhoods slammed hardest by the real estate crisis.

In announcing the third round of grants Wednesday, federal and local officials went to a previously foreclosed property in Hempstead Village that was rescued by past funding and is expected to be home to a Hicksville family after the closing this month. Windows once broken by squatters had been replaced, the shrubs were healthy and the new brass mailbox shone, fitting into the rest of a tidy block on Parsons Drive.

"I know especially for neighbors around here, this must be a real treat . . . not to have visitors . . . say, 'This neighborhood is going downhill,' " said Adolfo Carrión, regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was joined by six other officials, including Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-Mineola) and Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne Hall.

Under HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program, Nassau County will get $2.1 million, Suffolk $1.5 million and Islip Town $1.4 million. The aid is determined by a formula based on factors such as number of subprime loans, foreclosures and the jobless rate.

The funding comes on top of the $19 million already funneled to Long Island municipalities and a handful of nonprofits, which are expected to turn 100 foreclosures into affordable homes in the next three years. In some cases builders partner with government and nonprofits, earning a percentage of what they paid to buy and revamp the properties.

Nationwide, HUD will distribute another $1 billion.

On Long Island, boarded-up and vacant homes have been used as dumping grounds or free housing by squatters.

Foreclosure-related filings were posted on 220 Hempstead Village properties, or one out of every 75 households, during the first six months of the year, said RealtyTrac, an online market for foreclosures.

On Parsons Drive, neighbor Tom Perretta said he and others on the block called police on squatters many times: "We kept an eye on it," he said Wednesday.

That was until Glen Cove builder Doug Moskow bought the house for $169,000, including $111,000 in federal aid, and spent $95,000 fixing it.

To him, giving life to a problem property is "more satisfying" than the usual job.

"Neighbors are ecstatic to see you," Moskow said.

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