The Town of Islip held a lottery to match new homeowners with homes through its Community Development Agency's Affordable Housing Program.
With much fanfare Monday at Town Hall, Islip Town officials drew names from a large bass drum of 19 applicants who were selected to join the program. The lottery assigned each applicant a number that determines the order their applications will be processed.
The agency buys each house from bank foreclosures and Suffolk County transfers and renovates them to move-in condition, executive director Alison Karppi said. For now, the program has only six homes available to the first six applicants. The remaining applicants will have the chance to buy their homes when the agency acquires more houses.
When their names were called for number 13, Israel Aguilar of Central Islip and his wife, Diana, smiled and shook hands with Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter and Councilmen John Cochrane and Steve Flotteron.
Israel Aguilar, 40, who works in the heating and air conditioning industry, said he's counting on the program to help his family move to a community with good schools for their young son Gabriel. "Ronkonkoma looks nice. East Islip looks nice," he said. "The school districts are what we're looking at."
Maria Mendes, 51, a nursing assistant, hopes to find a permanent home in her neighborhood of Bohemia. She's seeking a three-bedroom for herself and her two daughters with a yard that's "not too big, and comfortable," she said.
"I'll just be happy to get a home," said Rosanna Santiago, 50, of Brentwood, a hospital aide who brought her 13-year-old son Jaheim to the lottery. She said she's tired of renting and is hoping to find a permanent three-bedroom house for her family.
The agency's program requires that applicants be first-time homeowners and have good credit, be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and meet specific income requirements set by federal standards for affordable housing.
Participants can buy the agency's houses at market rate and receive down payment subsidies, home-buying education, and low mortgage interest rates. The affordable housing program has helped more than 1,100 families since 1976, according to the town.
"This really is the American dream," Carpenter said after the lottery.