03.12.15

SCHUMER ANNOUNCES MAJOR VICTORY FOR AMITYVILLE’S LIBERTY VILLAGE; AFTER SENATOR’S PUSH, FEDERAL DEPT. OF HOUSING IS REVERSING DENIAL OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN RENTAL ASSISTANCE NEEDED TO COVER COST OF RENT & SUPPORT SERVICES AT LIBERTY VILLAGE

Liberty Village, Which Houses Previously Homeless LI Vets & Their Families, Applied Last Year for 30 Desperately Needed HUD Rental Assistance Vouchers – After Organization Rightly Brought Vets in Off the Street, Organization Was Rejected for Assistance

In A Letter & Personal Call With HUD Secretary Castro, Schumer Urged Agency to Reverse Course & Provide Critically-Needed Rental Assistance to Liberty Village

Schumer Announces, After His Push, HUD Will Provide 30 Project Based HUD-VASH Vouchers to Liberty Village; Assistance Allow Liberty Village to Fund Rent Costs & Much Needed Support Services, Like Job- Training, & Legal & Occupational Services

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today announced that, after his push, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reversed its denial of 30 project based HUD VASH Vouchers for veterans at Amityville’s Liberty Village, which houses a total of 60 formerly homeless veterans and their families. The HUD-VASH program shares a critical goal with Liberty Village: to combine housing voucher rental assistance for homeless veterans with case management and clinical services to help them live independently with their families. Since March of 2014, Concern for Independent Living (CIL), the non-profit organization that manages Liberty Village, has experienced a series of bureaucratic hurdles and denials in its application for 30 HUD-VASH vouchers. In February, Schumer exposed this major bureaucratic catch-22, when CIL’s Liberty Village application was denied because the housing organization had not left the homeless veterans and their families on the street until the application was fully processed, and therefore, the individuals were no longer technically homeless. Schumer wrote to HUD and made a personal call to HUD Secretary Castro urging the agency to reconsider its decision.

Schumer today announced that, after his push, 30 project-based HUD-VASH vouchers will be granted to Liberty Village. Twelve of the vouchers will be granted immediately to the units of tenants that currently receive portable HUD-VASH vouchers and agree to project-base their vouchers. The remaining 18 project-based vouchers will be given to Liberty Village and  can be used when the units are filled with new tenants.

“Liberty Village is a gem of Long Island and provides a supportive and safe housing environment for Long Island’s veterans and it is outstanding news that HUD’s has reversed course and will award 30 project based HUD VASH Vouchers to the organization. Without these vouchers, Liberty Village would have been forced to choose between much-needed services to these formerly homeless veterans and the costs of rent and utilities, and that’s why I’ve fought so hard to get Liberty Village and its tenants the assistance they need. HUD’s decision is a great step forward and I thank Secretary Castro for quickly working with me to serve Long Island’s veterans,” said Senator Schumer.

The North Amityville Armed Forces Reserve Center was operational until late 2011 and Concern for the Independent Living, a well-established not-for-profit affordable housing developer, took control of the property in order to build a new housing project. Concern for Independent Living’s Liberty Village consists of 60 units of handicap accessible affordable housing, dedicated to veterans and their families. Schumer has always been a strong supporter of Liberty Village. Specifically, in 2012, Schumer pushed for the Department of Defense and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to immediately move forward with the transfer of land to CIL. The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Town of Babylon then signed off on the lease transfer and rezoning requirements, and CIL received approval from the Department of Defense approvals just before New York State Home and Community Renewal tax credits, crucial funding for the project, were set to expire. 

Although Concern for Independent Living had all the capital funds necessary to build Liberty Village, the organization requires federal and state funding in order to maintain full operations moving forward. Concern for Independent Living relies on the New York State Office of Mental Health funds to cover property costs, and Concern for Independent Living sought these 30 Project-Based HUD-VASH vouchers to address the shortfall needed for critical supportive services. The HUD-VASH vouchers are necessary to help guarantee that the project can remain affordable for at-risk veterans and provide a variety of critical supportive services to residents. After first applying in March, Concern for Independent Living was unexpectedly notified that they had not been approved for the vouchers. While this posed a serious financial burden on Concern for Independent Living, they felt obligated to move ahead and rented out all of the units at Liberty Village, while reapplying for this funding.

In October 2014, the organization was told that they were approved for thirty HUD-VASH vouchers due to a second round of funding. In February, HUD wrote in a letter that “the occupied units cannot be converted to HUD-VASH PBV units as they are occupied and the veterans are no longer homeless.” Schumer urged HUD to reverse course and highlighted that CIL faced a bureaucratic catch-22; CIL’s Liberty Village application was ultimately denied because the housing organization had not left the homeless veterans and their families on the street until the application was fully processed, and therefore, the individuals were no longer technically homeless.

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