Seventeen years ago in 1997, 14 families purchased their newly-constructed attached homes on Colonial Road in Peekskill, each utilizing $25,000 first-time homebuyer grants provided by Community Housing Innovations. They were African American, White, Hispanic and of Indian descent, all chosen on a first come, first serve basis from among 300 applicants. It was the first affordable housing development sponsored by CHI and the first homes for these renters, who each paid a net of about $90,000. Recently, CHI moved its offices and came across a dusty copy of a 1998 video in which the families celebrated their good fortune. See the video.
The video provided a rare opportunity to see what happened to these families and to their homes. How did they get along? Was the housing preserved? Did the families benefit from the opportunity to own a home? So, CHI and the four remaining original families hosted a block party on Saturday, September 20th. Some of the children seen in the original video are already having children of their own. And they talked about how home ownership had changed the course of their lives. In addition, the neighborhood remains pristine, because price makes no difference in the pride of home ownership.
CHI still offers the same down-payment assistance grants of $25,000 to first time homebuyers in Westchester and on Long Island. CHI’s Renters into Owners program offers eligible buyers a down-payment and rehabilitation grant averaging $25,000 from the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation. Since the program’s inception, CHI has provided more than $12 million in grants and free counseling, allowing more than 500 families to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.
Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina attended the block party. He said that affordable homeownership housing developments like Colonial Ridge “contribute to the economy and help revitalize neighborhoods.”
CHI Executive Director Alexander Roberts added that affordable homeownership projects have proven to be a stabilizing force for generations in communities across the region. “Additional homeownership opportunities for working families are desperately needed, but local zoning makes it difficult to site affordable multi-unit housing in Westchester,” he said.