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Advocates welcome housing for disabled planned in Bethpage

A 48-unit apartment building under construction in Bethpage will house seniors and low-income tenants with developmental disabilities.

Meryl Jackelow, seen on Wednesday, says there is

Meryl Jackelow, seen on Wednesday, says there is a great need for housing for developmentally disabled people. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

Meryl Jackelow lived with her parents in East Meadow until she was 25. She is developmentally disabled and was “totally dependent on my parents” for many of her needs.

Then Jackelow moved into a subsidized apartment in Carle Place where she received assistance with budgeting, shopping and other tasks. She loves her independence.

“It’s a very good feeling,” said Jackelow, who now lives in a subsidized apartment in Westbury.

Jackelow, who is now in her 40s, has been advocating for more housing for developmentally disabled residents as a board member of Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities, which in July began construction of Oyster Bay Gardens.

The apartment building, located next to ACLD’s Bethpage headquarters, will include 12 units for low-income people with developmental disabilities — three of those for people 62 and older — and 36 units for seniors without developmental disabilities.

The need, she said, is great.

“I see so many of my friends waiting for housing,” Jackelow said.

ACLD recently applied for state funding for a 110-unit building in Medford that would include 20 apartments for people with developmental disabilities, said Robert Goldsmith, the organization’s executive director.

The apartments for developmentally disabled people are deliberately mixed in with housing for others to avoid an institutional atmosphere, he said.

“Everyone benefits,” Goldsmith said. “Just because they have different abilities doesn’t mean they should be segregated. They should be integrated in the community like any other community member.”

The group already provides services for developmentally disabled people who live in 39 subsidized apartments in complexes scattered across Long Island. The Bethpage building is the first being constructed by ACLD to specifically house people with developmental disabilities, Goldsmith said.

The state’s Office for People with Developmental Disabilities helps subsidize housing for about 41,000 people statewide, according to the agency.

Below-market-rents are critical because many people with developmental disabilities do not work or work for low wages and rely primarily or — like Jackelow — entirely on Social Security income, Goldsmith said.

ACLD employees regularly visit the 39 apartments to help clients with transportation, shopping, budgeting and other needs.

“You’re not totally on your own,” Jackelow said. “You have a safety net to go back on if you have a problem.”

The Bethpage building will cost $18.9 million, with state funding and federal tax credits providing most of the financing. A lottery for the units is tentatively scheduled for the summer of 2019, with completion expected in the spring of 2020.

OYSTER BAY GARDENS

The apartment building being built next to the Adults and Children with Learning and Developmental Disabilities headquarters in Bethpage will include 48 one-bedroom apartments.

Twelve of the units will be for low-income people with developmental disabilities; 36 will be for seniors.

Each apartment will be 600 square feet.

A laundry room will be on each of the building’s three floors.

A common area will include a computer room, an exercise room, a community room, a lounge and storage space.

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