Each board member of the Wyandanch Homes and Property Development Corporation (WHPDC) realized that there was no housing program to take people out of shelters and help them get back into the mainstream of society. WHPDC was created in 1985 to alleviate a severe housing shortage for the poor living in Wyandanch, NY and other impacted Suffolk County communities. The core objective of WHPDC is to rebuild both communities and families by building housing for the poor and providing poor families with support services to help them achieve self-sufficiency.
WHPDC has built sixteen new modular houses and renovated 9 houses. Twenty-five homeless families are now living in clean decent homes. There are twenty-eight adults and over eighty children working toward becoming self-sufficient. The program addresses the causes of dependence – lack of education, job skills, and child care. WHPDC feels that the best response is to provide the homeless, not only with living quarters, but also with the skills, attitudes and inspiration to attain and maintain self-sufficiency. While life skills are essential to maintaining a home and family, long term self-sufficiency also requires the ability to earn an adequate income. WHPDC encourages families to advance their education in the pursuit of better job opportunities. In combination with this education, families receive career counseling and help planning educational and employment goals.
Families must be on welfare, homeless, and/or living in a shelter to be eligible for participation in the program. There is an interview process to find the families that are willing to go to school or take job-training classes. The families that agree to do their part are accepted into the program.
The Board of the WHPDC has created an excellent working relationship with hundreds of agencies in Wyandanch, Suffolk County and New York State to make housing the homeless happen. The Board was able to get Suffolk County to donate land, which served as the catalyst to have the New York State Homeless Housing Assistance Program supply the funds necessary for construction and/or renovation of houses. The Board members even persuaded the federal government to transfer boarded up houses to the corporation for the homeless.
WHPDC would not be able to accomplish its goals without the help of its volunteers. The program has five volunteers that do weekly fix-up jobs on the houses, and about a dozen people come in once a year to help with major building and renovation jobs. There are also about 25 to 30 businesses that help out with whatever is needed.
WHPDC has had thirty-seven families’ move out of the program and into permanent housing. Members of fifteen families were working and off Public Assistance when they completed the program, and two were working full time but still in the Child Assistance Program. WHPDC currently has nine heads of household in college, fifteen working, and six in G.E.D. programs. The number of families whose lives have been transformed because of this program continues to grow.