Groups Urge Town to Settle Housing Suit

Housing advocates  on Tuesday urged the Town Board to accept a proposed settlement of a lawsuit that would allow apartment rentals at a development in Melville.

The NAACP lawsuit, which reaches back more than a decade, involves a plan for apartments on Ruland Road. The settlement would allow 77 one-bedroom, 34 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom rental apartments. Others, such as the Sweet Hollow Civic Association, say the apartments should be sold, not rented.

Richard Koubek, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, said, “The time has come” for affordable rental apartments. Citing the decline in enrollment of students in the Half Hollow Hills school district which has led to a decision to close two schools, Koubek said, “This is a case of some people in Dix Hills working against Dix Hills.”

The Town Board is scheduled to consider the proposed settlement next Tuesday in a 7 p.m. hearing at Town Hall.

Tuesday’s press conference outside Town Hall brought together a coalition of groups and individuals, some of whom have been on opposite sides on other housing issues. Among the advocates, such as the NAACP, the Progressive Coalition and the Melville Chamber of Commerce, was Matt Harris, a community activist who opposes the Avalon Huntington Station development on East Fifth Street.

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LIPC Supporters Turn Out for Public Option Rally at United Healthcare in Melville

MELVILLE – Long Island residents in favor of a public health care option took to the streets Tuesday as part of statewide show of support for reform.

Rallies like the one held in Melville were also held in Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton and New York City. Participants say they want a public health care option because private health care is expensive and can be unreliable.

“My primary care physician has become the emergency room,” says LIPC Member Carol Gordon.
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Long Island Residents Rally for Fair Share Tax Reform

Hundreds of community members and local leaders gathered in Melville on Friday, March 6th with handmade signs to urge Governor Paterson to meet New York’s budget shortfall by raising state income taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers instead of slashing health care, education and other vital services.

The Governor has proposed to close a record state budget deficit by making more than $9 billion in devastating cuts to institutions and services that working families depend on – schools and colleges, hospitals and nursing homes, and organizations serving the most vulnerable New Yorkers. Citizens across the state are pushing bank by calling for Fair Share Tax Reform, a plan to raise $6 billion to offset the deepest cuts by adding more progressive state income tax brackets for individuals earning $250,000 per year or more.

At the rally, Wilkens Young of Patchogue highlighted the impact of the Governor’s cut on one particularly vulnerable group, homeless veterans. “Programs that provide housing for homeless veterans and other displaced people could see a 25% cut under this budget,” Smith said. “The Governor is asking these men and women who have given so much to sacrifice even more so that the well-off don’t have to sacrifice at all. Those just aren’t the right priorities.”

Amparo Sadler, a Central Islip education advocate with the Long Island Progressive Coalition, spoke about the impact the cuts would have on working families and students. “The budget cuts would have a drastic impact on the quality of education in our local schools and weaken so many other organizations and services in our community. The Governor is asking everyone to sacrifice, except the New Yorkers who can most afford it. We’re rallying on Long Island to remind Governor Paterson that shared sacrifice means everyone.”

“As everyone here today knows, we are facing very challenging financial times,” said Suffolk County Legislator DuWayne Gregory, who represents the 15th Legislative District. “We can no longer afford the income tax cuts that have allowed the wealthiest New Yorkers to pay the same rate as a nurse or librarian who makes $20,000 a year. If we’re going to preserve health care and education for our most vulnerable and the next generation, we need Fair Share Tax Reform now.”

Today’s rally is one of many across the state highlighting the local human impact of the Governor’s proposed cuts and advocating Fair Share Tax Reform as a way to alleviate the worst of the cutbacks, while achieving truly shared sacrifice.
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Major Philanthropic Groups Pledge to Support LIPC

In a first-time regionwide initiative, five major Long Island philanthropic groups have pledged a half-million dollars to help 12 grassroots organizations, including LIPC, to improve the quality of life in distressed communities.

The project – designed to help struggling organizations develop managerial skills, work together and become more effective community advocates – was introduced at a conference Thursday at JPMorgan Chase Foundation headquarters in Melville.

“We looked at what else we could do besides giving money to organizations,” said Suzy Sonenberg, Executive Director of the Long Island Community Foundation, which initiated the Leadership, Effectiveness, Action and Partnership project. Technical assistance will be provided by the Community Training and Assistance Center, a national not-for-profit group focusing on urban communities. Representatives will visit each Long Island organization to “gain an understanding of the challenges it faces,” and work sessions will begin this summer, a spokesman said.

“We’ll reach forward, all of us together. You don’t have to be constantly struggling just to catch up,” Sonenberg said. A project of this kind on a regional scale “has never been done before,” she said.

To start, the Rauch Foundation will give $10,000 for general support to each of the 12 community groups, said Vice President Linda Landsman. “It’s our hope the funds will free each organization to participate more fully,” Landsman said.

Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a speaker at the kickoff, said, “We have an abundance of wonderful people with compassion and caring. This will give them additional training in the business-like skills to make them more effective in the long term.”

The funders include the Long Island Community Foundation, the Rauch Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Horace Hagedorn Foundation, and the Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock.