Offering solutions for attainable homes
St. Joseph’s College’s recent $40,000 grant award from the Long Island Community Foundation to establish the Institute for Attainable Homes will hopefully pave the way for more Long Island residents to attain their dream, either owning a home or renting, enabling them to remain here in the region.
“The origin started two years ago when we started the Hospitality and Tourism Management program,” Said Christopher Frost, Ph.D., executive dean of SJC’s Patchogue campus. “Superstorm Sandy hit and we were taking care of the individual, but what emerged also was hospitality for the people who live here.”
Exactly what options were out there to address the housing needs? What was available? How to turn it around?
“We talked about the role St. Joseph’s could play as far as livability,” Frost added.
Tim Bishop, distinguished professor of civic engagement and public service, will head up the initiative. The grant award is seed money right now, but he’ll head up a conference in September, a two-hour breakfast, offering case studies and best practices from the public and private sector as a concrete start.
“Our goal should be to get a significant amount of people in homes or get the banks to agree to give us 50 zombie homes [abandoned homes stuck in foreclosure] at attainable prices,” said Bishop, a former congressman. “I’m hoping we can convince them that if they sell the home for less, they’re on board for giving a local contractor a job, giving a family a place to live and work, fueling the economy and providing an area driven down by property values a leg up, so everyone wins.”
Bishop said zombie homes have been written about to death, but the college’s initiative plans to take it a step further. “We’ll partner with private or public efforts,” he said.
The thrust is attainable housing, not low income, Bishop added.
“Long Island Housing Partnership is doing great work,” he said. “But we think we have a role as well. We’re using attainable as opposed to low income. Right now the median home price is $400,000. So the median home price is perhaps unattainable.”
The Institute for Attainable Homes is under the aegis of the Center for Community Solutions; Bishop said it was a new concept and they were careful taking steps into this new realm. But he mentioned Copper Beech Village in Patchogue as a product of the public sector and the private sector and what could be done.
“We want to be an incubator for community building,” Frost said. “One thread is for community housing, another is making college available for those who wouldn’t ordinarily have access. Right now it’s a work in progress.”
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