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Hard-Hit Islanders Seek Alternative to Sub-Prime Mortgages

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April 2, 2008

Bellport, NY - A new approach to affordable housing is getting going on Long Island, with the aim of bypassing the whole sub-prime mortage crisis. In an unprecedented action, Nassau County has recently turned six dozen properties seized for non-payment of back taxes over to a group of community organizations. Residents of Bellport are now developing a new way to establish permanent low-income residents in new homes.

Sara Lansdale is with Sustainable Long Island, which is coordinating the project.

"This is a direct result of the sub-prime mortgage crisis that we're feeling on Long Island. To create a 'win-win' for the community and the county we urged the county to take these 72 properties off the auction block, to devise an affordable housing strategy."

Lansdale says community screening promises greater stability in the selection of low-income renters and aspiring homeowners.

"We really think it's important that the community be engaged, from the selection of properties through the identification of possible tenants, so that the community can learn the lessons from this sub-prime mortgage crisis."

The affordable housing plan is a partnership with Habitat for Humanity, the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, and various Bellport community groups.

Lansdale says the Bellport experiment could show communities statewide a way to ease the sub-prime mortgage mess.

"Bringing the community up front, I think, is a great model for other communities. This whole transfer is a historic. It hasn't been since 1982 that there've been 72 properties transferred to affordable housing from the county."

A new study by the Empire Justice Center found that Long Island accounts for one-third of New York's sub-prime loans that are slated for foreclosure.

Robert Knight/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NY