(Bay Shore, NY-October 7, 2014) Today, County Executive Steve Bellone was joined by Suffolk officials, Assemblyman Phil Ramos, David Kilmnick of the Long Island GLBT Network, POKO Management, Sustainable Management LLC, the Long Island Housing Partnership, Bay Shore business community representatives and Seniors to announce the introduction of landmark legislation in support of the development of LGBT friendly senior housing. The development is proposed in the hamlet of Bay Shore and will occupy approximately .75 acres on Park Ave.
“It was only a couple of years ago that Suffolk County was considered a County of intolerance,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “However in the last 2 and a half years, we have changed the tide and today’s announcement only reinforces the commitment I made to ensure that this County embraces its diversity and serves as a welcoming place for all. This legislation, introduced today, will allow for the planning steps to commence to create the first LGBT friendly housing development in the tri-state area.”
“With this extraordinary announcement, Long Island’s LGBT community makes history again by becoming the first suburban setting for an LGBT senior residence and community center,” stated Assemblyman Phil Ramos “It is so important that we recognize the unique needs of all members of our community, and this is a big step towards addressing those needs for this historically underserved group.”
“Ensuring Suffolk County is a welcoming place for all continues to be a priority of my office,” said Legislator Monica Martinez. “The proposed LGBT development is very close to the district I represent and I look forward to being a continued supporter of the creation of affordable housing throughout Suffolk County which meet the needs of our residents.”
The occupancy of the development is not limited to the LGBT community but is rather designed to create a welcoming and friendly environment for LGBT seniors who often experience discrimination and prejudice when seeking housing. It is estimated that 50 rental units will be created together with an onsite Community Center and POKO Management will serve as the developers.
The need for LGBT friendly senior housing is considerable, especially on Long Island and particularly for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender older adults who have faced a lifetime of stigma and discrimination. There are a growing number of older adults on Long Island. The baby-boomer generation is aging and recent statistics point to the LI region bearing the brunt of this growth. Many LGBT older adults face great discrimination. The non-profit Equal Rights Center recently conducted surveys across 10 US states and found that in 46% of cases, gay couples reported discrimination when seeking housing.
"If you think about the people who supported a world that was highly discriminatory, that is the population that is in the retirement and nursing homes now," says David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer of the Long Island GLBT Network. “That’s what makes the LGBT and LGBT friendly development in Bay Shore so critical. It will give our seniors and elders the high quality of life they deserve and in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment that celebrates their life.”
“POKO Partners LLC is pleased to be working with David Kilmnick and Long Island GLBT Services Network to develop senior affordable housing for the GLBT community,” stated Andrea Kretchmer, Managing Director of POKO Management. “Throughout our 25-year history, POKO has focused on urban and suburban revitalization, impacting positively on each property and its surrounding neighborhood. On Park Avenue, we will couple thoughtful design with sustainable, high-quality construction to benefit Network residents, clients and the larger community. We are committed to working with community leaders and town and county officials throughout the predevelopment, development and operating phases of this project, and to make a long-term commitment to its success.”
There are currently four affordable or low-income housing developments that cater to gay retirees in the US. The first, Triangle Square, opened in Hollywood, CA in 2007; Spirit on Lake in Minneapolis opened in 2013, the John C Anderson apartments in Philadelphia opened January 2014 and one in Chicago has been approved for the Halstead area with construction beginning this fall.
The LGBT-friendly affordable housing development in Bay Shore in Suffolk County will be the first in the New York tri-state area, the fifth LGBT friendly development in the entire country and the first development located in a suburban environment.
The legislation introduced today will be on the floor for a vote of the full Suffolk County Legislature on November 18, 2014.
Robert Suarez, AVP Community Development-Bethpage Federal Credit Union, Ken Olson, POKO Management LLC, Assemblyman Phil Ramos, County Executive Steve Bellone, Ethan Eldon, Partner, Sustainable Management LLC, David Kilmnick, Chief Executive Officer-Long Island GLBT Network, Robert Vitelli, Chief Operating Officer- Long Island GLBT Network, Andrea Kretchner, Managing Director, POKO Management.