Chhaya CDC's Homeownership Program: Yangchen Chadotsang & William Spisak
As Housing Preservation Program Manager at Chhaya, Yangchen Chadotsang has been with the agency for eight years and is well aware of how stressful the homebuying process can be. Chhaya CDC was founded in 2000 to advocate for the housing needs of New York City’s South Asian community.
Its mission is to work with New Yorkers of South Asian origin to advocate for and build economically stable, sustainable, and thriving communities.
“The homebuying process—especially in New York City—is incredibly complicated. I have had clients who are attorneys and professors and they find it confusing, so you can imagine what it is for someone who is new to the process, the country and who has language barriers.”
William Spisak, Director of Programs at Chhaya, believe that this is probably the most challenging time in history to become a homeowner in New York.
“The cost is prohibitively high and lots of low and moderate income families are working families, saving and doing everything right, but homeownership remains just out of reach. Sometimes all they need is a counseling, support, downpayment assistance understanding the process to help push them over that line.”
And he notes that there are other barriers as well.
“One thing we recognize is that it’s not necessarily a fair market. Low and moderate income families are competing with investors, speculators and cash buyers. The solution lies in being able to provide families and individuals with the support they need—to lenders, counseling agencies, resources they need can make a difference for homebuyers. We see folks come to homebuyer ed course and not come back for counseling. They come back a year later and are still in the same place in the process because it is tough to do it on your own.”
Yangchen has some good advice for those who would like to become homeowners:
“Be proactive, get all your financial information ready, and most importantly, attend a homebuyer class at a HUD-approved counseling agency. They have tools and resources and will walk you through the process and also tell you about all of the support available. Once you attend a homebuyer class, the journey begins, and you will have an action plan that fits your needs.”
There are tangible benefits to enrolling in the program.
“Right now, the downpayment assistance can be as high as $60,000 for a first time homebuyer. For a low or moderate income buyer, saving that amount of money would take years so this makes a huge difference.”
Will believes that being part of the New York Mortgage Coalition has been critical to Chhaya’s success.
“Chhaya is a small community based organization that serves a unique population. As such, the majority of our emphasis and energy and focus has to be on our community members, so it is hard for us to leverage the important funding relationships, technical assistance and knowledge on our own. Our relationship with other partners through the NYMC is a very efficient and effective way for us to connect to the organizations we need to do our work.”
“For 18 years, we have not had any fees for our services, so it is critical for us to have funding from NYMC to serve our clients. They provide a platform where we can have open dialogue with our lenders who are financing first time homebuyers and to talk to them about what our community is facing. Our collective voice holds more weight with the lenders.”
Over the last few years, housing agencies have also unfortunately seen an increase in discrimination in housing and NYMC is taking action to help the groups tackle the issue with a larger, stronger voice. NYMC also supports the agencies with ongoing counselor development, providing wonderful training and resources that keep us up to date and allow us to better serve the community.
“Without NYMC we would definitely be less effective.”