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Nassau Community College students rally for affordable housing

Renaissance Downtowns chief executive Donald Monti speaks to

Renaissance Downtowns chief executive Donald Monti speaks to Nassau Community College students at a rally for affordable housing on Oct. 7, 2014 at the College Center Building. Credit: Newsday / Maura McDermott

Two hundred Nassau Community College students turned out for a pep rally Tuesday in support of housing for young people, saying Long Island is pricing them out.

"Long Island is the place that we once knew as a thriving community," but now young people can no longer afford to stay, Patrick Deegan, a student and member of the college's board of trustees, told the crowd that assembled on campus.

The event was organized by Destination LI, a Plainview-based not-for-profit that advocates for "smart growth," such as new development near downtown train stations.

Renaissance Downtowns chief executive Donald Monti, who sits on the group's advisory board, asked the students at the East Garden City campus rally if they live on Long Island. About half raised their hands. Then he asked if they plan to stay on the Island. Only a few hands remained up.

Monti called that "pretty scary," adding, "What you have to realize is that you do have a voice, and that voice can be heard."

The developer urged students to attend a Destination LI event on Oct. 20 at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, where elected officials and builders will speak about development.

Long Island has 4,000 acres of parking lots near train stations -- land that could be used to provide housing for young adults and bring in new tax revenue, said Jean-Marie Smith, Destination LI's executive director.

"We hope that we can change the conversation and make people realize that change is not a bad thing," Smith said.

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