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Workers' housing in Bay Shore celebrated

Jacqueline Porcelli lived with her mother, fretting that she'd never afford her own place. Then the social worker heard about a way out: a new workforce housing development in downtown Bay Shore.

With help from the Long Island Housing Partnership, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit, Porcelli, 29, secured a loan and moved in January into a two-bedroom condo in the 40-unit, $13 million Cortland Square development.

On Thursday, she helped local politicians and housing officials cut the ribbon at the Mechanicsville Road site, to celebrate the newest component of downtown Bay Shore's comeback.

"Affording rent on my own was near impossible," said Porcelli, who had watched her siblings move out of state for lower-cost living. "We love Long Island. We didn't want to leave."

The four-building project, on 2.4-acres of town-owned land, was financed largely by the Town of Islip, Suffolk County and federal, state and some private resources.

The project attempts to marry two goals: redeveloping downtowns by creating walkable communities with public transportation and amenities and keeping young professionals on Long Island. Cortland Square, which is about a block from the Long Island Rail Road station, is the third major development in Bay Shore, which has added 92 workforce homes in the South Wind Village and Sunnybrook developments.

"It's the kind of housing that we know . . . Long Islanders want and need," Islip Supervisor Tom Croci said.

A block from Cortland Square, Bay Shore's main street is lined with shops and restaurants, a departure from the closed storefronts of a decade ago. In October, construction is slated to begin on a $21.3 million Pace Cove apartment and retail complex on Maple Avenue.

"We need to create more affordable homes to keep our young people here; it's vital," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.

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