Mariela Calderon, a single mother of four, applied to Habitat for Humanity four times before getting accepted. On Wednesday, Calderone received the keys to the Bellport home she helped rebuild. Newsday's Steve Langford reports. Credit: James Carbone

For four years, Mariela Calderon kept filing applications to buy a house with Habitat for Humanity.

The single mother of four works as a quality control inspector for a pharmaceutical company in Shirley and has lived with her parents in Patchogue for more than 20 years. She knew working with the nonprofit was probably the only way she could get a place of her own.

"I kept applying until I got it. It’s really hard to afford a home," Calderon said. "I'm a single mom and everything is expensive now and everything went up. I don’t think a single income can afford a house."

Habitat for Humanity sold the fully refurbished home in Bellport to Calderon on Wednesday so she could move in with two daughters, ages 10 and 21.

"Thank you for making my dreams come true to own a house. And thanks to God," Calderon said. "I wanted to have a space to call home for my kids and me."

Lee Silberman, executive director of Habitat of Suffolk County, said Calderon was buying the home at market value for $360,000, using grants and a low interest mortgage.

The home was purchased without a down-payment but instead with 300 hours of "sweat equity," from Calderon volunteering to help finish her home and other projects under construction in Suffolk County.

She signed a 30-year mortgage with 2% interest while Habitat for Humanity signed a second soft mortgage that will be forgiven as the home is paid off, Silberman said. The total mortgage, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes will be fixed at 30% of Calderon’s income.

"The two best days are the days we raise the walls of a new house and a few months later, when we hand over the keys to our new homeowner," Silberman said. "No one should be spending more than 30% of their income for housing."

Recipients for new homes qualify three ways. They pay more than 30% of their income for housing, or live in substandard or overcrowded housing, Silberman said. He said the majority of recipients qualify in all three categories.

About 50% of residents in Suffolk County pay more than 30% of their income on housing and about 20% of residents pay at least 50% of their income on housing, Silberman said.

"When someone does that, there’s no money left for health expenses and insurance," Silberman said.

With James Carbone

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