September 29th - October 5th, 2018
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“We have to do better at creating housing where people can afford to live.” - Hon. Duwayne Gregory, Presiding Officer, Suffolk County Legislature
Suffolk County Welfare to Work Commission Releases Report on Housing for the Homeless
In a report two and a half years in the making, the Welfare to Work Commission has released a report assessing the critical shortage of housing for Suffolk County’s homeless population.
The report focusses on the lack of affordable housing and a climate which tends to look at renters as transients who are not to be trusted. This has created an opposition to rental housing and created a shortage which in turn drives up costs. Many young people and workers with moderate income are finding it increasingly difficult to find housing thanks to this model.
“We have to do better at creating housing where people can afford to live,” said Hon. Duwayne Gregory, Presiding Officer, Suffolk County Legislature.
This lack of housing has been shown to be a threat to the economic health of Long Island as moderate and low-income families are becoming increasingly unstable in their finances. This is also causing Long Islanders to pay well above the recommended 30% for housing. Such a situation often creates difficult decisions where people must decide between basic necessities such as food and shelter, or paying needed bills.
“In places like Long Island the majority of the homeless population are in their situation because they cannot find affordable housing.” Greta Guarton, LI Coalition for the homeless.
The most insidious side effect, according to the report, is the rise in homelessness that this system causes. By the most recent estimates, almost 4,000 homeless are currently living in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Of those being provided aid by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, about 51% were found to have a source of income, but not enough to provide housing on Long Island.
“Mixed use housing is happening in communities many who no longer oppose us. We have been able to whittle away the stereotypes and work together on long term supportive solutions.” said Ralph Fasano of Concern for Independent Living.
The study also looked at the effect of mental health on the homeless as well, finding that a significant number of people with illnesses were at high risk of becoming homeless. After taking all of these factors into account, the Welfare to Work Commission found it necessary to implement a program to encourage affordable housing for families in need.
County-wide Solutions proposed included addressing the systemic lack of affordable housing for low-income people in Suffolk County, highlighting short and long-term costs of not providing affordable and supportive housing, assisting high-needs clients to complete supportive housing applications, improving SPA placements, prioritizing federal Emergency Solutions Grants that prevent homelessness, prioritizing homeless families on Public Housing Authority waiting lists, and creating a coordinated County response for low-income housing.
Other solutions proposed included improving Suffolk hospital discharge policies for homeless people, encouraging more flexibility by the NYS Department of Health in allowing housing adaptations and conversions from one modality of supportive housing to another, carefully assessing substandard housing before Suffolk County, towns and villages shut down such facilities, thereby adding to the homeless population, and creating additional State supports for supportive housing.
“Government has a basic obligation to address these problems professionally.” said Legislator Tom Donnelly of Suffolk County.
As part of their efforts, the Welfare to Work Commission has submitted this report to Suffolk County in order to help provide a way forward.
You can read the full report here.
Tom DiNapoli Announces Latest Fiscal Stress Scores
NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli has released his latest report on fiscal stress and deemed 25 municipalities across the state to be fiscally stressed.
The list for 2017 includes ten counties, six cities, and nine towns, which marks the third straight year of decline in the number of municipalities deemed as stress. Local governments did not fair so well, however, as the number considered to be in “significant fiscal stress” more than doubled since the prior report.
"Fewer local governments are considered fiscally stressed, but those with persistent financial problems are struggling to stay out of the red and fix their problems," said DiNapoli. "While the results may be encouraging in some areas, there are municipalities that should focus on near-term financial risks and implement more prudent long-term planning."
The numbers are based on 2017 financial information that was provided to the comptroller’s office by local governments in early September, and only feature municipalities who have fiscal years ending December 31st. Of those who reported from Long Island, Nassau and Suffolk Counties as well as Oyster Bay have received the highest rating of “significant fiscal stress.” Long Island and the Mid-Hudson Valley regions had the largest percentage of local governments in fiscal stress.
"Good to see most Long Island Villages and Town's that have downtown revitalization programs not on the 'severe stress' list, though both Counties have fiscal challenges," said Vision Long Island Director Eric Alexander.
The monitoring system for fiscal stress was implemented in 2013 and evaluates governments on nine financial indicators. Those include fund balance, cash-on-hand, short-term borrowing, fixed costs, and patterns of operating deficits. Other factors such as population trends, poverty and unemployment are also taken into account.
You can read the full report here.
Mastic Beach Beginning to see Signs of Revitalization
Recent trends in Mastic Beach seem to indicate that a long-awaited revitalization might be underway in the 8 months since the hamlet returned control to the Town of Brookhaven. Efforts have been underway by Brookhaven and local residents to breathe life back into the area by pushing back on blight in the area and drawing in visitors from other parts of the island.
Things seem to be working as home prices have begun to creep upward with around 260 homes sold from August 2017 to this past August. Commercial development has also been on the rise in the main east-west thoroughfare of the downtown with there being a growing interest in constructing retail store, apartments, and possibly a bank. This all comes just as a new $9.5 million headquarters for the Mastic Beach Ambulance Company was recently opened.
“Mastic Beach is doing a lot better than it was doing this time last year, so there is progress,” said Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine said. “There’s a long road back. 2019 is going to be a critical year for Mastic Beach where all the pieces start to fall into place."
Part of the efforts to help with that has been working to demolish abandoned and blighted homes that violate town codes. Nine have been torn down with 11 more on the schedule and a public hearing set to decide the fate of another 8. There has also been a concerted effort to clean up Mastic’s image, with a full page ad in Newsday earlier this year to hail the hamlet as a centrally-located diamond-in-the-rough.
The future is a little up in the air, though, with a $191.3 million referendum on the Town’s ballot for this fall that would authorize allow the County to build a new sewage treatment plant at the local airport and create w new sewer district. The sewer district is seen as the main way to create a thriving nightlife in downtown Mastic. Local developers who have expressed interest in the downtown have cited uncertainty surrounding the sewer district as a reason for caution.
The new sewer district would also be the first step in increasing capacity to allow for housing in the downtown in order to attract new residents. Such a move would also help to push up retail prices in the surrounding area and begin to draw new interest and revitalization to the area.
“When you’re a young family, you want to live in a place that’s attractive, and where your family will be safe," said Brookhaven Councilman Dan Panico. "Mastic Beach has a lot to offer, you’re near a lot of water. I think people see the value."
Vision helped to work on the Mastic Beach master plan, and has been pushing for sewers for the area with local officials that have resulted in County, State and Federal funding commitments. Kudos to Councilman Panico for his leadership and the Mastic Beach Property Owners for picking back up where the Village left off.
You can read more here.
North Hempstead to Receive $150,000 in Federal Funding for Environmental Study
US Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have announced the approval of $150,000 in federal funds for an environmental study on cleaning up and revitalizing New Cassel brownfield properties.
The fund were approved through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Brownfields Program, and will conduct an investigation of sites in the surrounding area. The move is the first step in a plan to clean up and encourage redevelopment of these sites.
“These federal funds will help North Hempstead to clean up brownfield properties in New Cassel, which has the double benefit of eliminating pollution and putting these parcels of land back into use for economic development. This is a wise investment in the redevelopment of our communities that will help spur job creation and economic growth for years to come,” said Senator Schumer. “I am proud to announce this vital funding and will continue to fight for communities, like New Cassel, adversely affected by pollution.”
Brownfields are defined as properties that may contain havardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. North Hempstead has been working to properly clean up and redevelop these sites surrounding New Cassel for over a decade. Gillibrand was part of that effort, writing to the EPA in support of the Town’s request for funding earlier this year.
“With this funding, the Town of North Hempstead will be able to assess the environmental contamination at Brownfield sites in New Cassel and clean them up,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “These sites have great potential to benefit the community, and rather than turning our backs on them, this project will help revitalize them into new and vibrant spaces. I was proud to fight for this funding and I will continue to support funding for environmental and redevelopment projects that will benefit New Yorkers for generations to come.”
It is good to see federal investment in our local communities in the form of this Brownfields grant. There has been significant effort made their over the last two decades by Town of Hempstead officials, community members and some new businesses emerging.
You can read more here.
Qwik Ride Expands to Northport Village
The Village of Northport is welcoming the shuttle service Qwik Ride in hopes that it can help alleviate parking issues in the popular downtown.
The expansion comes after the Hauppauge-based shuttle service previously started operating in Huntington Village. The company offers free rides to and from the downtown in electric golf carts that have been modified to sit six. The service is mostly aimed at employees of local businesses so that their vehicles won’t take up valuable parking for multiple hours.
Northport Village officials reached out to the company as part of their efforts to reduce traffic in the increasingly popular downtown. Officials have also cited proposed development in the downtown and possible future projects as a reason to be proactive about parking issues.
“It’s a good fit because we have a parking problem,” said Deputy Mayor Tom Kehoe. “We’re going to have to do something in Northport to change what we do with our cars.”
Qwik Ride gave a presentation to the Northport Chamber of Commerce this past September on the new services. The company is beginning with just two vehicles with a limited range due the hilly nature of Northport coupled with electric vehicles. Services can be requested via Qwik Ride’s app.
You can read more here.
CNU NY to Hold Chapter Summit this October 12th - 13th
The New York Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism is holding their chapter summit, “Re-Imagining the Suburbs,” a suburban retrofit themed workshop focusing on “new towns” and emerging transit corridors in Amherst.
The event will take place from Fri, Oct 12, 2018, 8:00 AM – Sat, Oct 13, 2018, 5:00 PM EDT. It will be held in Williamsville, NY, a 200 year old mill town, for a weekend of expert speakers, tours, and charrettes aimed at unique retrofit opportunities. The program will kick off with an Urban Land Institute breakfast and wrap up with a celebration tour of the CNU 22 legacy.
You can register for the vent and get more details here.
Great Neck Plaza’s 34th Annual AutoFest & Street Fair Scheduled for October 21st
The Village of Great Neck Plaza, in conjunction with the local Business Improvement District (BID), will be holding the 34th celebration of our Annual AutoFest and Street Fair on October 21st.
The Plaza's Annual AutoFest & Street Fair has been a part of the lives of Great Neckers for more than three decades. It brings us great pleasure to announce the 34th Annual Auto Fest & Street Fair has been scheduled for Sunday, October 21st, from Noon to 5 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the fair will be held the following weekend; Sunday, October 28th.
Parts of Middle Neck Road, Grace Ave, Bond Street, Cutter Mill, and North Station Plaza will be closed down temporarily for the enjoyment of fair-goers. Live music will fill the streets from several locations, there's various activities planned for children and fun events for all ages, including classic and special edition automobiles that are featured.
For more information regarding the 34th Annual Auto Fest & Street Fair, please contact Village Hall, (516) 482-4500, or the BID at (516) 829-1301, shopgreatneck.com.
Riverhead BID to host annual Halloween Festival on October 27th
The Riverhead Business Improvement District Management Association will be hosting their annual Halloween festival on October 27th.
The festival will include the popular coffin races, a Halloween parade, pumpkin carving, a Jack O’ Lantern walk, and afternoon trick-or-treating. Coffin races will start at 1 pm with trick-or-treating taking place from 3 to 5 pm. The parade will start at 7 pm. Local restaurants and businesses may also have their own events and specials on that day.
You can find more information here.
30th Annual Keys for the Homeless Annual Conference on November 2nd
Please join the Long Island Coalition for the homeless for their 30th annual Keys for the Homeless Event. The event will take place on November 2, from 8:30am—2:30pm at Touro Law Center, located at 225 Eastview Drive in Central Islip. The keynote speaker for the event will be Dr. Zachary Morris, Assistant Professor and Stony Brook School of Social Welfare.
The Key of Excellence Award will be presented to Suffolk County Department of Social Services, Housing Division and Unsung Hero Awards to Lonnie Sherman, Founder, General Needs and Brother Mark D’Alessio, Hope House Ministries.
There will also be workshops at the event, with topics to include Engaging Active Substance Users, A Team Approach to Engaging Homeless People with Complex Conditions, Motivational Interviewing, Eviction Procedures/Illegal Evictions, Data Driven Outcomes & Strategies, Homelessness, Food & Housing Insecurity, The Rights of Homeless Families, Bringing Your Project from Paper to Life: A Round Table with Funders, Employing Peer Specialists: Benefits for All, How Do We Come Together? Taking Action, Rapid Rehousing Models: A Panel, and Effective Landlord Engagement. Selected Workshops will be eligible for CEU Credits.
You can visit their site here for Registrations, Sponsorships and more information.
Comprehensive Civics Program for NYS HS Seniors Launched
The League of Women Voters and NYS Social Studies Supervisory Association are partnering to create a new program to educate young people on how to make a difference within their government.
The program includes 7 lesson plans that are focused on NYS as well as local government and the importance of participating in the political process. The plans will help students develop an understanding of public policy and how it is made in New York as well as what rights and responsibilities they have as citizens.
Lessons can be customized for specific classrooms and interests, and are designed to inquiry-based and nonpartisan. Topics of the lessons include the structure of New York State Government, Individual rights and responsibilities in New York State, Voting in New York State, The Public Policy Process (Laws) in New York, Influencing New York State Government, Participating in Political Action in Your Local Community, Participating in Community Service in Your Local Community.
Lesson plans and materials are available here and on the state League website.
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