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Islip Town board approves affordable housing for LGBT seniors

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the New York

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the New York LGBT Network, seen here on March 3, 2017, applauded an Islip Town plan to build affordable housing for LGBT seniors. Photo Credit: Danielle Finkelstein

Islip Town Board officials have approved plans for an affordable housing complex in Bay Shore aimed at senior citizens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender and their allies.

Board members voted unanimously in favor of the project at their Sept. 25 meeting, making way for the $30 million, 75-unit facility. The project still requires site plan review and building permits, according to the town.

“The Town of Islip has a long, proud history of addressing affordable housing needs,” Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter said in a statement. “I was happy to support this senior housing complex.”

The project is planned for downtown Bay Shore, next to the LGBT Network’s current community center on Park Avenue and Mechanicsville Road.

The D & F Development Group of Levittown is behind the project, which will be anchored by a new, 8,000-square-foot community center for the network. Construction is slated to start in June 2018 and to be completed by early 2020 for occupancy.

David Kilmnick, chief executive of the LGBT Network, has said the development will be the first of its kind on Long Island.

“Many of our LGBT seniors now grew up in a world where discrimination was legal,” Kilmnick said. “So many of our elders were in the closet until just the last 10 or so years. They’re now living their true authentic selves and are able to live a happy life being out.”

He said many of those seniors fear they “would have to go back in the closet again” if they had to move into a traditional senior-living facility.

“My husband and I, once a week, maybe more often, worry about what we’re going to do when we need to downsize and sell the house,” said Roy Schmitt, 70, of Lynbrook, who is interested in moving into the new facility. ”We would be very, very worried about having to go back into the closet, hiding who we are for fear of being harassed, excluded. We’ve seen that happen.”

Over the past three years, the LGBT Network has had about 500 inquiries into the complex, Kilmnick said. The idea was announced in October 2014, but was delayed when the original developer became ill, Kilmnick said. The process sped up after D & F got involved earlier this year, he said.

The four-story building will have 71 one-bedroom apartments and four two-bedroom apartments.

Criteria for tenants are age — applicants must be at least 55 — and income, Kilmnick has said. While the housing complex considers itself “LGBT friendly,” legally the housing must be open to anyone and will meet all other federal housing guidelines, he said. There will be a lottery system to place residents.

The units will be targeted for tenants who make 60 to 80 percent of the area median income, or about $35,000 to $85,000 a year, officials have said. Rents are anticipated to be $1,000 to $1,600 per month.

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