On Monday, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced a pilot program to provide wastewater infrastructure funding for housing for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The county will provide $2 million for community-based integrated projects for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County is launching a $2 million pilot project to help lower the cost of wastewater hookups for housing projects that permanently dedicate apartments to adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities, County Executive Steve Bellone announced Monday.

The money, to be allocated over the next year, is aimed to help the 25,425 adults in Suffolk with intellectual or developmental disabilities, 63 percent of whom live with family caregivers. Officials are particularly concerned about some 6,400 disabled adults whose family caregivers are older than 60 and will eventually need their own housing.

“A big question for most families … is what will happen to their child, once they pass on,” said Bellone. The problem is urgent because “we're on the cusp of a tsunami here with a longer life expectancy … We have more people to serve than ever before with resources that continue to be limited,” Bellone said.

Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore), minority leader, said the plan will give more options to families who “often face heartbreaking and financially impossible choices.”

The funding will go to lower the cost of hookups for housing units in multifamily apartment complexes for adults with disabilities who can live on their own with other state support. Each project  would require the approval of the county legislature.

Mitchell Pally, chief executive officer of the Long Island Builders Institute, estimated that 200 to 300 units could be built as part of the pilot program in which sewer hookup benefits would go to as many as 25 percent of the apartments set aside for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Pally said builders will be interested. "If we can find appropriate sites, our members will build them,” he said.

Legis. William Lindsay III (D-Bohemia) whose younger sister has Down syndrome, said the issue has affected his family. “The concern," Lindsay said, "is always what is the succession plan going to be.”

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