Ex-Army base property transferred to Babylon

A rendering of the proposed affordable housing development A rendering of the proposed affordable housing development for homeless veterans and their families. (Feb. 21, 2012) Photo Credit: Heather Walsh

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Property used by a former Army Reserve Base in North Amityville has been transferred from the Department of Defense to Babylon Town, clearing the final hurdle for a housing development for veterans.

The land transfer was announced this week by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who began pushing in February for the Defense Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to sign off on the property changeover.

HUD officials did so this summer. Babylon Town has approved rezoning of the property.

Schumer had sought to speed up the process because New York State Home and Community Renewal tax credits -- which are to fund most of the $21 million project -- were to expire this year.

Concern for Independent Living Inc., a Medford-based nonprofit, is developing the project, which includes 60 apartments for honorably discharged homeless veterans and their families as well as the new headquarters for the nonprofit Long Island Coalition for the Homeless.

Residents would pay about $575 monthly for one-bedroom apartments and $710 for two-bedroom apartments.

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The 15-acre Army Reserve base off Albany Avenue closed in 2011. The Base Closure Community Redevelopment and Homeless Assistance Act encourages municipalities to take the homeless into account when redeveloping former military bases.

Officials estimate there are hundreds of homeless veterans on Long Island. "These vets risked their lives for this country, and the least we can do is get them into a warm, affordable home," Schumer said in a statement.

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Ralph Fasano, executive director of Concern for Independent Living, said $13 million in state low income housing tax credits will help to finance the facility.

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The group has received another combined $7 million from the state and federal governments and Suffolk County. The remaining funding is expected to come from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, he said.

"There are enough homeless veterans out there that the demand is high," he said. "We should have no problem filling the units pretty quickly."

Mildred Hodgson, who has lived blocks from the site for 41 years, said she supports veterans but worries about the new residents and those who will come for homeless services.

"Many of the homeless have mental problems, through no fault of their own, and I'm sympathetic to that," she said. "But I'm concerned."

Fasano said a groundbreaking is planned on Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. Construction is expected to last until the end of 2013.

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