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Glen Cove residents could be displaced by upscale condos

Sharon Johnson, 57, right, with her mother, Evelyn

Sharon Johnson, 57, right, with her mother, Evelyn Brown, 78, in Johnson's Glen Cove apartment on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, is among the residents who could be displaced from their homes if a condo project gets final approval from the city. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Developer Daniel Livingston describes the property he wants to turn into upscale condominiums as “blighted.”

The 48 residents who live in apartments on the site call it “home” and are worried about finding new places to live on pricey Long Island.

Queens-based Livingston Development Corp. — Livingston is owner and president — on Dec. 22 received City Council approval for a 160-unit condo complex, The Villa at Glen Cove, on Glen Cove Avenue a few blocks from downtown.

The proposal is before the city planning commission.

Livingston and city officials say the condos would put tax revenue in city coffers and attract young professionals and empty-nesters.

But Ilda Santos, 38, wonders where she, her husband and their four children will live. It took three months for the couple to find their two-bedroom apartment five years ago. They pay $1,300 a month, nearly $400 below what the U.S. Census Bureau estimates the median rent for Nassau County was in 2014. The couple struggles to pay the rent with the meager pay Manaces Pérez, 39, earns from two jobs at a supermarket and restaurant.

“I don’t know what we’re going to do,” Santos said in Spanish as she stood in her apartment doorway, above a mostly shuttered strip mall. “It was very difficult to find this.”

Down the hall, Sharon Johnson, 57, fears the same. Johnson, who relies on Social Security disability payments, also pays $1,300 for a two-bedroom, where she and three grandchildren live.

“I was born and raised in Glen Cove,” Johnson said. “I’ve been here [nearly] 58 years. Why should I find another place to live? . . . Where am I going to find something in Glen Cove that fits my budget? There’s nothing.”

Johnson credited Livingston with charging her a reasonable rent, but blamed city officials for her predicament, saying they do little to provide options for low-income people.

Her mother, Evelyn Brown, 78, who was born and raised in the city and was recently visiting Johnson from her home in South Carolina, agreed.

“Glen Cove doesn’t want poor people,” Brown said. “They want it the way it was before. Push the poor people out and build stuff up for rich people, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Livingston vowed to work with real estate professionals and city officials to find new housing for those who would be displaced and said he’d consider cash payments to residents. He said the housing on the site, which sits on a busy street next to a paved lot, with many apartments sitting above the strip mall, “doesn’t provide a quality of life” for residents, and new housing would be a step up.

But low-cost and subsidized housing options are limited throughout Glen Cove, where about 15 percent of residents live below the poverty level, more than double the rate in Nassau County, according to Census estimates. Waiting lists for federally subsidized housing are years long.

Tyi Collier, 30, said she, her husband and their two children were fortunate to get a Section 8 housing subsidy to live in a Livingston-owned apartment. But she is pessimistic about finding another unit if they’re displaced. “Either no one wants to take Section 8 or there’s nothing available,” Collier said.

Low-cost housing in Glen Cove

There are 212 Glen Cove Housing Authority units and another 340 federal Section 8 vouchers available for apartments in the city, officials said. The number of those vouchers is set by the federal government, not the city. Many apartments in the city are too expensive for the program, said Fred Moore, program administrator for Section 8 in Glen Cove, which has not accepted new applicants since 2009.

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