Proposed Hempstead Village housing offers vets new start
A New Year. A new home.
That's what the United Veterans Beacon House, Inc. hopes to offer several military veterans and their families next year with its first potential housing location in Hempstead Village.
The nonprofit group based in Bay Shore, which has provided temporary and permanent residences for more than 7,000 veterans in Nassau and Suffolk counties since 1994, is working with Nassau to complete a deal in which five attached two-bedroom apartments and a single-family home, converted into two dwellings, would house vets.
"The housing is needed," said Frank Amalfitano, president and CEO of Beacon House, who took on the project six months ago. "Currently, we have a family that is living out of their car and we are placing them in a hotel. We know the need is out there."
Beacon House is looking to acquire with federal funds from Nassau the properties at 111 Henry St. for around $335,000 and 115 Henry St. for $875,000. Apartment building owner Carmine Ferraro, president of Ferraro Building Corp. in Elmont, has improved the structure privately to be move-in-ready by the end of January or early February.
"We're in contract," said Ferraro, who has owned 115 Henry St. since 2008, adding he made a deal with Beacon House for a full acquisition. "We have to complete the project and he has to secure the funding from Nassau County. It gets done simultaneously."
No contracts have been signed or approved yet by the county, but the process could take up to two months, Nassau County executive spokesman Brian Nevin said. Once approved internally, the Nassau Interim Finance Authority needs to approve the contract, he said.
Army veteran Deborah Custis, 49, of Hempstead, was the first selected to live in the apartment building. The single mother of a 16-year-old Hempstead High School sophomore said she started using drugs and alcohol after she was a victim of sexual trauma. She's been clean for 16 months and started working for Beacon House in September as a veteran peer navigator, she said.
"I know nothing can hold me back and God has a plan for me and my daughter to have our own," said Custis, who lives with her sister. "It will be the best Christmas present and a great start to a new year."
But village Mayor Wayne J. Hall Sr., an Army veteran, said he has reservations about veterans with possible mental health issues, or drug use and alcohol addictions coming into the village. Hall said he dislikes that the properties would be off the tax rolls, an ongoing issue about which he has complained.
"We don't want anybody to give us more problems," he said. "I just hope it is successful for the people and they live up to the agreement with me."
Eligible veterans from Hempstead would have first preference, Amalfitano said. The apartment rents would be about $1,600 a month, plus utilities, and Beacon House would provide supportive services to the veterans, he said.
"We have a proven track record," Amalfitano said. "We are not going to bring any people who are going to cause problems . . . What [Hall] is not looking at is that those properties have been an eyesore and we are going to improve them."
ABOUT THE PROPERTIES
Address: 111 Henry St. in Hempstead Village
Total Rooms: 8
Year Built: 1928
No. of Stories: 2
Property Taxes in 2013: $8,820
Address: 115 Henry St. in Hempstead Village
Year Built: 2009
No. of Stories: 2
Property Taxes in 2013: $21,450
Source: Public Records