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Volunteer first responders can now get up to $50K in housing grants

An existing program that provides grant money to employees of businesses is also available to volunteer members of Long Island’s fire and ambulance departments.

Suffolk County Legislator Steven J. Flotteron and James Britz, executive vice president of the Long Island Housing Partnership (LIHP), announced Monday that the Employer Assisted Housing Program grant, which can provide a maximum of up to $26,000 in down payment assistance for the purchase of a home plus $24,000 to improve the property after purchase, is also available to volunteer first responders.

“This program can help our volunteer first responders from Malverne to Montauk purchase a home,” Flotteron said in a written statement. “Until now due to the employer match funding constraints these unsalaried employees (volunteers) could not benefit from state and federal grants that can provide the money needed to buy a home. Our volunteer first responders put their lives on the line every time they are called, and they are owed a debt of gratitude. We are proud to have worked together to make them all aware of this program.”

The program requires that a $3,000 payment from the grant receiver, plus $3,000 company match is required. To help the volunteer departments match funds for their members, a not-for-profit called Long Island Guardian Grants has been formed with the assistance of Brad Wilson, owner of Jones Hollow Realty, to assist the departments with the match.

“Our volunteer organizations are funded by tax dollars and government grants, so they do not have the financial ability to match dollars for their members who want to take advantage of this program,” Wilson said in the statement. “We have already begun our fundraising efforts and we are thankful of the response we have received thus far. It is proof that Long Islanders recognize the efforts of our volunteer emergency responders and this is a perfect way to say thank you.”

Flotteron, who discovered the program’s ability to be extended to volunteer personnel, said volunteer fire and ambulance departments have worked to find ways to attract and retain new members and also keep them on Long Island. 

“Our hope is this program will allow them to own their own home while keeping them on Long Island and allow them to become involved in their communities,” he said.

The Employer Assisted Housing Program grant has been administered through LIHP and has already helped many Long Islanders.

“Some of Long Island’s largest employers have been providing this opportunity to their employees, and now we take another step to help more Long Islanders stay right here and raise their families,” Britz said. “The LIHP is eager to begin working with these departments.”

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