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Hempstead Town sells zombie house to Habitat for Humanity

The charitable group takes ownership of a home in Roosevelt and plans on getting it ready for a family to move in this winter.

The Town of Hempstead sold a zombie home in Roosevelt  to the Nassau County branch of Habitat for Humanity for $1. The charity and town officials toured the house on May 3, 2018. (Credit: Newsday / Stefanie Dazio)

The Town of Hempstead sold a vacant house in Roosevelt to the Nassau County branch of Habitat for Humanity for $1, and a new family could move in as early as this winter.

The town board unanimously approved the sale on April 10. Habitat officials expect to finish the permit process soon and begin construction in June with the goal of finishing in December.

The town has previously donated vacant lots to the organization. Myrnissa Stone-Sumair, executive director of the county’s Habitat branch, said getting existing homes saves them time and money — which is beneficial for their waiting list of 60 to 70 families and a rate of placing one to two families into homes every year.

“This is really good for us because we don’t have to build from the ground up,” she said. “We can move more families into homes if we get them in this condition.”

Town Supervisor Laura Gillen said the home’s previous owner died about 10 years ago and it fell into disrepair and squatters moved in and looted the house. The town has more than 1,000 zombie homes and Gillen said she hopes to see more of them go into the hands of organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

“To take what was a zombie home and a blight on the community and give it to a deserving family that will come in here and bring new light into this home, it will be an asset to the town and an asset to the community,” Gillen said.

The two-story, Colonial-style Roosevelt home is on Manhattan Street and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a basement and attached garage. The home is roughly 1,900 square feet.

The family that will move in will have to put in 300 hours of “sweat equity” into this home or another.

The future homeowners purchase the homes with a zero percent mortgage or a U.S. Department of Agriculture direct loan — which is aimed at helping low-income families — at up to 5.5 percent interest, according to the organization’s website.

“We’ll continue to do the very best we can because it’s something that we need to do for our community,” said Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, who represents Roosevelt and has worked with Habitat for years. “You can see the pride that they have when they own a home.”

This will be the fourth home in Roosevelt that Habitat has worked on, part of about a dozen within the Town of Hempstead, Stone-Sumair said.

While the Manhattan Street home currently has animal droppings across the floors, exposed ceiling beams and weeds dotting the yard, Habitat office assistant Priscilla Dujardin walked through the bare kitchen as afternoon light streamed in last week.

“You can just imagine it when it’s all finished,” she said.

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