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Tenants move into Coram senior-citizen complex

Laura Cassell, right foreground, chief executive of Catholic

Laura Cassell, right foreground, chief executive of Catholic Charities, cuts the ribbon to Cabrini Gardens, a new affordable senior-citizen housing complex in Coram. (Sept. 15, 2011) Photo Credit: Erin Geismar

Nearly seven years ago, Colette O’Connor, 65, left her Queens apartment to move in with her daughter in Coram after she fell ill and medical bills took precedence over rent.

But as she regained her health and began looking for her own place, she couldn’t find anything on Long Island within her means -- until she found Cabrini Gardens.

Located in Coram, adjacent to Saint Frances Cabrini Catholic Church, Cabrini Gardens is a Housing and Urban Development-funded project operated by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre. The $12.3-million complex, which took about 10 years to complete, consists of two three-story buildings, each with laundry facilities on every floor and community centers.

Tenants, including O’Connor, began moving into Cabrini Gardens this summer; the 66 units are already full. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the facility was held Thursday morning.

Jay T. Korth, director of housing and legal affairs for Catholic Charities, said low incomes and the high cost of living make it difficult for senior citizens to remain on Long Island.

“If we had the resources to build a dozen more of these,” he said. “They would fill up instantaneously.”

He said government housing subsidies ensure that tenants only pay a third of their income in rent. Some tenants pay as little as $200 a month, he said.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said he was happy to welcome a new affordable-living facility to the county.

“Our seniors deserve the type of comfort, dignity and affordability they will get out of these 66 units,” he said.

O’Connor said she was thrilled with her new apartment and was finally able to take out of storage things she hadn’t seen in years.

“I love it,” she said. “Because it’s mine.”

Laura Cassell, right foreground, chief executive of Catholic Charities, cuts the ribbon to Cabrini Gardens, a new affordable senior-citizen housing complex in Coram. (Sept. 15, 2011)

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