Skip to content

Schumer Announces New Federal Financing Initiatives For Fort Drum And The Greater Watertown Community To Help Address Housing Issues

The Fort Drum Community Is Growing Dramatically Due To Military Personnel Shifts

In June, Schumer Demanded Fannie Mae Step Up To The Plate, And No It Is Delivering A Concrete Plan

Senator: This Is A Step In The Right Direction To Make Sure Housing Is Available and Affordable For The Community, Soldiers And Their Families

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced new federal financing initiatives for Fort Drum and the greater Watertown Community to help address the growing need for affordable and available housing. As a member of the Senate Banking and Housing Committee, Schumer has been working to provide the federal resources and expertise necessary to make sure affordable housing is in place for Ft. Drums new troops, their families, and the greater community at large. In January, Schumer attended the Fort Drum Housing Summit with local community and business leaders to address the impending influx of people into the community and its effects on housing, education, health care, and economic development. Then in June, Schumer called on federally chartered housing entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to develop concrete plans to help address the Fort Drum housing issues. Today, Schumer unveiled a strategy developed with Fannie Mae.

Today, we have big news for the tens of thousands of soldiers and families stationed here at Fort Drum, the thousands more that are on their way, and the entire community in Watertown, Schumer said. Four months ago, I urged Fannie Mae to step up to the plate for the Fort Drum area, and now we are here announce its part of the solution for this housing challenge. We have reached a crossroads here in Watertown and Fannie Mae is going to help go down the right road. There is no doubt that this influx of military personnel will be a shot in the arm for the local economy, and now we are making sure that housing is available, safe, and affordable.

Schumer and Fannie Mae designed a plan to provide offbase housing options which expands homeownership, strengthens the communities and integrates soldiers and military personnel into the communities in which they live and serve, while addressing the entire regions need for more housing. Fannie Mae has brought to the table financial tools and products that will help address the region's specific housing needs.

Fannie Mae will be able to assist soldiers and military personnel interested in becoming home owners, through a program called My Community Mortgage (MCM), which makes home buying easier and more flexible. Three improvements have been made to make homeownership more affordable. This program will be available through M&T Mortgage Corporation and HSBC Bank. First, MCM will now allow 100% financing, or 0 down payment, low cost financing. Second, mortgage insurance premiums have been reduced, and Fannie Mae will require the minimum levels allowed by its charter. Third, Fannie Mae is working with the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) and Jefferson Community College in their development of on base home buyer education initiatives that will better inform people how to go about becoming home owners.

At the Summit in January, it was decided that a resource that was strongly needed was funding for renovations, including the cost to administer such a program. According to the Army Corps of Engineers 68% of the housing in the Watertown area is substandard. Fannie Mae listened and responded, finding a way to incorporate that into their programs. To help soldiers and military personnel interested in renovating existing single family homes, Fannie Mae is working with Neighbors of Watertown, Inc. (NWI) to offer special home renovation products. $3 million will become available for the renovation of single family homes within the city of Watertown. This financing will be made available from National City Mortgage Corporation to NWI who will administer the program. Under this program special financing will be made available for home owners and home buyers who are interested in renovating their property. Fannie Mae is also providing a $20,000 grant to NWI to assist with the administration of the home renovation program.

This is a strong first step, but we still have more to do. I am looking forward to continuing to working with my colleagues in Congress and our partners at Fannie Mae, and with all the local leaders on the ground to make sure there is a strong supply of affordable housing for decades to come. I have been working very hard to get this done, and anticipate making more announcements, just like this, in the near future, Schumer added.

Last January, at the Watertown/Fort Drum Housing Summit Conference, Schumer called upon the secondary housing markets, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to devise a strategy to help bring financing solutions to meet the housing needs of the area. Since January, Schumer has been working with Fannie Mae and a number of stake holders on the development of an investment strategy to help meet the housing needs Fort Drum and the Watertown area. In June, Schumer and his staff sat down with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and asked them to create affordable mortgage products for military consumers in the Fort Drum area. Schumer also asked that they develop formal partnerships with area direct lenders including banks, credit unions and mortgage brokers, and requested they commit resources to create a homeownership education and financial literacy program for Fort Drum soldiers, their families, and the community, since this will be the first purchase of this size for many. Schumer and Fannie Mae have been working with many local stakeholders throughout the process including the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization (FDRLO), DANC, and NWI.

In 2005, Congress passed and the President approved the expansion of troops assigned to Fort Drum under the BRAC process. These personnel shifts will increase the population of Fort Drum and Watertown by 10,000 individuals, which will add significantly to the need of new housing. Bringing more people to the area would presumably lead to greater economic development, increased retail sales, and a larger tax base. Without adequate housing, families could be discouraged from relocating limiting the positive economic impact.

Schumer was joined by Congressman John McHugh, Mayor Jeffrey Graham, Robert Bannister of Fannie Mae, Dr. John Deans of Jefferson Community College, Bob Juravich of DANC, Gary Beasley of NWI, Laura Kelly of National City Mortgage Corporation, Holly Bush of M&T Mortgage Corporation, Beth Fipps and Cheryl Schroy of HSBC, City Manager Mary Corriveau, Libby Churchill, President, and Partick J. Henry, Treasurer, of the JeffersonLewis Board of Realtors, Corey Alexander, Tim Touhey of Fannie Mae, and Keith Caughlin, President of FDRLO.