Bishop, Tenants, Advocates Celebrate Homestead Village Victory
Congressman Tim Bishop joined residents of Homestead Village and tenants' rights advocates to announce the decision of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to provide federal housing assistance for individuals and families living in Homestead Village to help them remain in their homes.
The Homestead Tenants Association, led by Dorothy Jones, contacted Congressman Bishop after residents were informed that management intended to leave the HUD Section 8 program and the Section 236 mortgage insurance program. An end to the complex' participation in the program would have led to the 345 units that were made affordable through a HUD-insured mortgage becoming subject to a 15% rent increase. This would have forced residents to seek housing elsewhere, likely a futile exercise given the lack of available rental units in Suffolk County.
Congressman Bishop reached out to the Secretary of HUD to advocate for relief under the Project-Based Voucher program. Such vouchers would provide a safety net for residents. As a result of Congressman Bishop's request, HUD reviewed the case and determined that income-eligible tenants in the 345 units can receive enhanced vouchers because of an agreement signed by the complex' owners in the early 1980s. Residents will now be able to apply for enhanced vouchers, which will allow them to remain in their homes or take their vouchers elsewhere and move to a new place if they choose.
"Affordable housing remains a significant concern on Long Island," said Congressman Bishop. "Any time we can preserve the affordable units that already exist, it is a win not only for the tenants involved, but for all of us. It ensures these individuals and families will be able to remain in our community. I am extremely pleased we were able to help these residents keep their homes and I would like to thank Dorothy Jones from the Homestead Tenants Association for bringing this to our attention and to the group Tenants & Neighbors for their continued advocacy on behalf of tenants across Long Island."
"This is an enormous victory for low and moderate income tenants," said Katie Goldstein, Executive Director of Tenants & Neighbors, a statewide affordable housing advocacy group. "With HUD's decision, and due to the advocacy on behalf of Congressman Bishop, tenants will no long face displacement and rent increases upwards of 15%. Now tenants will be able to stay in their homes and communities, and Homestead Village will continue to be a diverse and secure community."
HUD has contacted the Town of Brookhaven's Department of Housing and Human Services to determine if it is interested in becoming the local administrator of the enhanced vouchers. If Brookhaven agrees to be the local administrator, it would then be responsible for contacting residents at Homestead Village and processing voucher applications. Tenants in an additional 86 units are automatically eligible for Tenant Protection Vouchers under the Section 8 program.
Homestead Village is a 431-unit HUD-subsidized housing complex. 86 units are covered by Section 8. The remaining 345 units were originally covered under a HUD-backed mortgage. The complex provides affordable rental housing to households with incomes below 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI). The newly available enhanced vouchers that residents are eligible to apply for are for households with incomes below 95% of the AMI.