The nonprofit Community Development Corporation of Long Island is setting up the bicounty area's first housing-health program in the state's largest village -- Hempstead.
The $600,000 yearlong initiative -- funded by state and private interests -- emphasizes individual medical issues in conjunction with broader, health-related housing issues, such as improved sealing to keep heat in or out, bug and rodent control, and heightened awareness of safety concerns, such as tripping hazards.
"The idea is not new, but to Long Island it is," Marianne Garvin, CDCLI president, said.
"As part of the program, elderly and disabled clients in single-family private homes and in the village's housing authority's apartments will be offered free inspections on such things as accessibility needs, architectural barriers, lighting sufficiency, and indoor air quality through CDCLI's . . . programs," Garvin said.
The thinking is that healthier environments lead to better living, officials said.
Hempstead was selected for the pilot program, in part, because about 20 percent of its roughly 55,000 residents are below the poverty level and receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, according to the CDCLI. About 13 percent of the predominantly black and Latino community is unemployed.
Another critical factor is that "27.6 percent of the residents have no health insurance," Garvin said.
"Basically, I fall into that group," said Greta Price, 47, an 18-year resident of Gladys Gardens who has health issues. A single mother and certified medical assistant who works "infrequently" through temporary agencies, she has no private health insurance.
Her youngest daughter, a recent high school graduate, lives with her, she said. "She has allergies, asthma and eczema, and between the two of us, our medical issues are high," Price said.
Tenants "also need more things to do, like gym activity -- every day," beyond the three days a week allowed at authority housing and headquarters at 260 Clinton St., tenant Bradley Hinton, 64, said last month at an authority meeting with tenants about the initiative.
At the meeting, about 40 tenants, CDCLI staffers, a member of the program's major partner -- Nassau University Medical Center and its community clinic -- and housing authority director Rosemary Olsen talked about topics such as energy efficiencies, including window and lighting fixture replacements.
Garvin later said the program will expand "to many more of the . . . authority's 200 units."
Mayor Wayne Hall said the program is a testimony to Olsen's effectiveness and a benefit for residents: "We have a good director, and she's helping us help these tenants."
Price said the program "will never resolve the major health issue in my life here last year" -- the machete death of her 17-year-old son, Terrence Wade Grier Jr. But she hopes it helps her and others in the Gardens.
Chase Bank has put $200,000 into the health-housing initiative.
NeighborWorks America has provided $120,000
United Way of Long Island has contributed $12,500
New York State Homes and Community Renewal is providing roughly $268,000 for rehabilitation and weatherization.
Source: CDCLI Officials