The Nassau and Suffolk county executives said Tuesday they will soon form "youth cabinets" made up of 20- and 30-somethings to advise them of issues affecting young people - primarily affordable housing and jobs.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and his Suffolk counterpart, Steve Levy, mentioned their plans at a breakfast meeting sponsored by the business group Action Long Island at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. The meeting, attended by about 600 people, was ALI's 20th annual County Executive Update. ALI meetings normally deal with such issues as taxes, regulation and development. The session Tuesday was all about Long Island's young people and how they will afford to live here.
"We will start a youth cabinet," said Mangano, who shared the dais with Levy, ALI chairman Sheldon Sackstein and two 20-somethings - Louis Imbroto, 26, and Frances Picone, 28. Levy said he would do the same in Suffolk. Mangano later said the youth cabinet members will be picked by Imbroto and Picone, who are leaders in ALI's Young Adult Alliance. Mangano said the cabinet would meet with him on a regular basis. He said he will also be providing the youth cabinet members with information about county services.
Levy said his youth cabinet would also serve as a lobbying force. The first issue he mentioned was his controversial proposal for a 1,300-unit Legacy Village affordable housing project in Yaphank. "There will be the usual five people out there arguing against it," Levy said, adding he would call upon the youth cabinet to help support the project.
Sackstein said he was happy to hear about the idea for the youth councils but noted ALI already has such a body. "We will invite them [Mangano and Levy] to participate in the Young Adult Alliance rather than dilute anything from the effort that is already going on."
At times, the meeting became highly charged, with young people standing up and addressing the crowd about the difficult times they have finding affordable housing.
"I'm low-income now, but I don't plan to be forever," said Beth Reichert, who lives at home with her family in Nesconset and works in the family services division of Habitat for Humanity. She has been unsuccessful so far in finding a place of her own, she said.
Picone said later she felt the meeting was a good start. "I used to complain about [the lack of affordable housing] over the dinner table," said Picone, of Melville. "Now it's out there" to 600 people. "Now, they know we exist."