East New York’s Nehemiah Housing Proving Resilient

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    When the Nehemiah project launched in the 1980s, it sold houses to residents of East New York for as little as $39,000. The church-run program would buy abandoned, city-owned properties and erect inexpensive homes for residents that met the program’s strict financial credibility checks. Nowadays, Nehemiah (named after the post-exile Biblical character who rebuilt Jerusalem) homes sell for as much as $120,000, but this is still well below market rates for similar properties. NPR profiled the organization this week, pointing out that the project has stringent financial checks to ensure that applicants are not involved in any criminal activity and to ensure that they will not default on their mortgages (applicants can spend no more than 20 percent of their income on the mortgage; no more than ten out of over 4,000 homes have been foreclosed in the program’s entire history). Zandra Brockman, an applicant to the program, said the application process was worth the result: “Where else could we live at the prices we had?” she told NPR. “It was truly a blessing for us.” The article adds that applicants who are rejected often organize their finances and re-apply later successfully. Sarah Plowden, who works for Nehemiah and also owns a home through the program, said: “We more than just bought homes. We bought into one another as a people.”
    Low-Cost Brooklyn Housing Sees Few Foreclosures [NPR]
    Affordable Houses Infused With Color [NY Times]
    Low-Income? You’re Kidding! [NY Magazine]

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