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Hempstead to conduct affordable housing study

A $215,000 state grant will be used to determine the availability of affordable housing in the town, officials said, with plans for refurbishing zombie houses. 

On Wednesday, Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen spoke at a news conference about the $215,000 grant awarded to town officials to conduct a study on affordable housing, including the option of converting vacant zombie homes under foreclosure into refurbished affordable housing. (Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa Loarca)

Hempstead Town officials were awarded a $215,000 grant to conduct a study on affordable housing and say they have a plan to refurbish abandoned houses in foreclosure.

Supervisor Laura Gillen said the foreclosure rate in Hempstead and on Long Island is double the rate for New York State and across the nation.

The average home in the town is valued at more than $400,000, which is 40 percent higher than in the rest of the state and nearly double what it is in the rest of the country, Gillen said.

“It is a sad reality that there are too many families on Long Island that are struggling to make their mortgage payment each month and are facing housing instability,” Gillen said. “Even after the housing market collapsed, Long Island has not fully recovered from the tide of foreclosure that battered many of our communities.”

The study will examine the availability of affordable housing across the country’s largest town of more than 800,000 residents and 22 villages. Gillen said it is aimed at helping seniors, millennials and labor workers who are being priced out of their homes. The town will open a request for proposals to find someone to conduct the study.

Hempstead has 547 zombie houses — vacant properties in foreclosure -- and more than 1,500 houses in foreclosure, Gillen said.

State and town officials are also working with Habitat for Humanity to purchase and repair zombie homes and sell them at a lower price to families with a steady income who then commit to staying in the neighborhood, Gillen said.

The refurbished houses also increase the value of neighboring homes and put properties back on tax rolls, Gillen said.

The grant was announced Wednesday in front of a foreclosed home in Hempstead Village by Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown), Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-Great Neck) and town and village officials.

“We want to keep people in their homes and not force them to flee,” Thomas said. “This study is for the next generation of families to stay in their homes.”

Senior Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby and Hempstead Village Mayor Don Ryan said more attention should be focused in the village, where boarded-up homes blight the community and families are being forced into foreclosure.

Ryan said the village has a higher number of homes that may not be in foreclosure, compared with the rest of the region, but get overlooked for grant money while they are abandoned or in disrepair.

“We need an influx of support and funds to get this started,” Ryan said. “This is more of an issue here than anywhere else in Nassau County and we deserve our fair share.”

The grant was secured by the Long Island Senate delegation of Thomas, Kaplan, Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) and John Brooks (D-Seaford).

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