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Affordable Housing at Issue in Long Island Lighthouse Project

May 22, 2008

Hempstead, NY - Long Island residents are gathering at a town hall meeting today in Hempstead to urge that affordable housing be part of the 'New Suburbia' renovation at the site of the old Nassau Coliseum. The two-billion-dollar 'Lighthouse Project' will include entertainment, shopping, a renovated stadium, and new housing facilities.

Lisa Tyson with the Long Island Progressive Coalition is promoting the public meeting.

"People are gathering to say to the town of Hempstead, 'Yes, we want affordable housing in our backyards!' We want to make sure that the Lighthouse Project has affordable housing on the site of this project."

Tyson says the traditional practice of steering affordable housing into the Island's poorest communities threatens neighborhood stability, and that low-income 'dumping' hasn't worked well in the past.

"These communities are already suffering at trying to be able to afford their schools and health care services. We need to spread people who need affordable housing throughout Long Island so that they can get the benefits of good services, and so that people can live in the communities that they grew up in."

According to Tyson, affordable housing at the new Lighthouse also benefits moderate-to-upper income residents, because good home design from the start is a protection against gentrification and neighborhood displacement.

"Many times on Long Island, there has been affordable housing built, but all of a sudden those people flipped thier properties, and they were able to make a lot of money. We need affordable housing that is designed well, so that it won't need to be gentrified because it is a good project, and good design does bring up home values."

The ten-year 'Lighthouse' construction project, which developers describe as Nassau County's 'new hub,' is scheduled to break ground next July. Today's hearing is being held Hempstead Town Hall on Washington Street.

Robert Knight/Don Mathisen, Public News Service - NY