Lorne Simon said he had been homeless for most of the last 31 years since leaving the Navy before moving to Liberty Station in Port Jefferson Station several months ago.
The 77-unit apartment complex on State Route 112, which opened earlier this year with a focus on providing homes for veterans and people who would not normally be able to afford to live close to where they work, has given Simon a chance at what he called “calm.”
“I came here for a fresh start,” said Simon, 52, a former New York City resident who shares his new apartment with his dog, King. “I did not know anything about Long Island … … I only know that is what I need.”
Medford-based nonprofit Concern Housing built the $ 27.8 million complex on a former 11-acre wooded lot close to other apartment complexes and shopping malls. Grand opening ceremonies, delayed by pandemic concerns, were celebrated on Sept. 15 after tenants began moving in earlier in the year, CEO Ralph Fasano said.
Liberty Station contains 25 units reserved for veterans and a further 20 apartments for which veterans are prioritized. The remaining 32 units are “labor force” apartments set aside for people whose income is less than 50% of the region’s median income. Suffolk County’s median household income in 2019, the most recent available year, was $ 101,031, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Monthly rental rates range from about $ 350 to $ 900, Fasano said. The units are 700 square feet and 900 square feet for disabled residents.
“There is so little affordable housing” on Long Island, Fasano said. “There is so little housing available for veterans on Long Island as they get older.”
The complex includes a small common room and indoor and outdoor exercise facilities as well as a library and a computer room. A staff of seven provides on-site services and can arrange transportation for residents.
Concern Housing, formerly Concern for Independent Living, has built dozens of single-family and multi-family homes over the past 50 years, including three others that cater to veterans in Amityville, Ronkonkoma and Brooklyn. Another is planned in Southampton Town, Fasano said.
Concern receives applications from potential tenants through government programs such as those administered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs, Fasano said.
“We had hundreds of applications for the 77 units,” he said. “The sad part is that demand is so much higher than supply. The good part is that we know we can keep doing what we do because we know there are enough people to serve. “
Another resident, Edward Reardon, 72, a retired chef and carpenter, said he was happy to move to Liberty Station after struggling to pay rent on a former Patchogue apartment.
“I have a roof over my head,” said Reardon, an army veteran who served in Vietnam. “People care about people. When you need something, you can talk to someone.”
Simon, who said he could not work due to disability, said that after many years of stumbling between temporary domiciles who “did not feel at home”, he is grateful to have his own place.
“It gives you dignity,” he said.
Home Sweet Home
Liberty Station in Port Jefferson Station opened earlier this year on 1599 State Rte. 112 at Port Jefferson Station. Here are details about the project:
Cost: $ 27.8 million
Total number of units: 77
Veteran units: 25:
Units preferred by veterans: 20
Workforce housing (for tenants earning less than the median income): 32
Veterans rental rates: $ 350 per. Month
Rental rates on the workforce: $ 900 per. Month
Standard unit size: Approximately 700 square feet
Handicap-friendly unit size: Approximately 900 square feet
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