Tags Posts tagged with "Steve Israel"

Steve Israel

From left: Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (D), Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) and former Congressman Steve Israel. Photo from Bellone’s office

Counties on Long Island are preparing for the worst should another government shutdown occur.

In response to the most recent federal government shutdown, Nassau and Suffolk county officials announced the creation of a bi-county working group Jan. 25 to help coordinate resources for federal workers on Long Island who were affected by the 35-day shutdown and any future shutdowns that may arise. 

Former congressman Steve Israel, a Democrat who served 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, will lead the bi-county working group. 

“This federal shutdown is a man-made disaster that is hurting Long Islanders and our regional economy,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) said in a statement. “We can no longer wait on Washington to get its act together, which is why we are appointing Congressman Israel to lead this bi-county working group to coordinate an effective response with all stakeholders and help those affected. 

“This federal shutdown is a man-made disaster that is hurting Long Islanders and our regional economy.”

— Steve Bellone

The group’s focus would be to bring together government officials, nonprofit organizations, social-service agencies and others to collaborate on helping workers affected. Together they plan on creating a resource guide that federal workers can access during shutdowns, bypassing red tape that may normally hinder their efforts. 

“There’s a lot of finger pointing over the federal government shutdown,” said Israel. “County Executives Bellone and [Nassau County Executive Laura Curran (D)], on the other hand, have decided to roll up their sleeves and protect their constituents. I’m honored to volunteer to assist them.” 

The latest shutdown, also the longest closure in U.S. history, had approximately 800,000 federal employees furloughed or had them forced to work without pay. TBR News Media reported several businesses stepped up to help during the shutdown, but many were inundated with people seeking aid. Some businesses received 200 or 300 people over a single weekend.

The shutdown has also had a major impact on the economy, reportedly cost Long Island as much as $28 million per week in lost wages to federal employees, according to data from the nonprofit Long Island Association. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported the latest shutdown cost the U.S. economy approximately $11 billion.

Despite the news that President Trump (R) and congressional leaders reached an agreement to reopen the government for the next three weeks, Derek Poppe, Bellone spokesperson, said it doesn’t change anything for the working group. 

“It is almost more important now than ever since we know there is another possible shutdown looming in three weeks when the temporary agreement runs out,” Poppe said in an email. “This deal confirms County Executive Bellone’s point that we need to prepare for the possibility of future federal shutdowns that have a devastating impact on workers and taxpayers.”

Former U.S. Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) signs copies of his new novel "Big Guns" at Book Revue. Photo by Karen Forman

By Karen Forman

A Huntington politician turned author is hoping his newest novel hits its mark with area residents.

Former U.S. Congressman Steve Israel (D) celebrated the release of his latest work of fiction “Big Guns” at Huntington’s Book Revue April 19 to a standing-room only crowd.

The 320-page novel, released April 17 by publisher Simon & Schuster, is a political satire on national gun control issues that almost seems ripped from recent headlines.

Huntington resident Avalon Fenster, 16, speaks at Israel’s book release as the founder of March for Our Lives Long Island. Photo by Karen Forman

“After Sandy Hook, I saw the president crying about all the first graders who were murdered and I thought that now things are going to be different,” Israel said. “But nothing changed.”

The former politician said he was inspired after reading that the small town of Nelson, Georgia, passed an ordinance in 2013 that every single resident had to own and carry a gun — or pay a fine.

“That triggered the idea for the book,” he said.

“Big Guns” is the second novel written by Israel, following “The Global War on Morris” which hit book stores in December 2014. Both novels are fictional political satires that make illusions and references to Long Island towns.

“I believe that satire is the most successful way of making a point,” he said. “I wanted to make my point without slapping people in the face, and satire is more believable when you use local references.”

Readers may be surprised to find Israel’s novel is also filled with local characters who are based on people he served with when he was a Huntington town councilman, from 1993 to 2001, and others he met while in Congress.

While serving in the U.S. Congress, the former politician said he and other Democratic congressmen have attempted to pass several bills on gun reform: universal background checks; “no fly, no buy” laws; laws that would outlaw bullets that can pierce a cop’s body armor. All were defeated.

Fourth-grader Spencer James with his mom, Fran James, and twin brother, Matthew, at the book launch. Photo by Karen Forman

Israel said one day in the “members-only elevator” in Congress, a colleague told him that he couldn’t believe he had just voted against all these gun reform amendments. But otherwise, he couldn’t go back to his district and face all his NRA supporters.

“That shows the intensity of gun voters,” Israel said. “They vote on guns and that’s all. They don’t vote on other issues. And they will not forgive politicians who vote against guns.”

The former politician has been actively involved with the March for Our Lives Long Island movement, founded by 16-year-old Huntington resident Avalon Fenster. While she is still too young to vote, Fenster said she agrees that “young people are the change.” Several students attended the event after having heard Israel speak at the March for Our Lives rally March 24, including Spencer James, a fourth-grader from Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School in Huntington.

“I want my future to be safe and happy,” James said.

Israel said he  feels there is hope now for real change in federal gun control policies.

“Our government has failed us on this issue, the adults have allowed this to happen,” he said. “But these young people today are not giving up. They will not forget. And so there will be change.”

Congressman Tom Suozzi takes a selfie with his family after being sworn into Congress. Photo from Suozzi’s office

Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) has wasted no time getting to work, opening his district office at 478A Park Ave. in Huntington last week, and getting sworn into office Tuesday, Jan. 3, in Washington D.C.

The office, which opened on Dec. 27, is located at Sunny Pond Farm, inside two historic homes dating back to the American Revolution, which have been preserved and converted into an office space. The homes are located on the property of former Huntington Congressman Silas Wood who represented Long Island in the early 19th century.

Suozzi said he wanted to choose an area that would be easily available for all of his constituents.

“Getting things done for the people of Long Island is our number one priority,” Suozzi said. “This office will help us serve the district. I wanted to locate the office on the Suffolk-Nassau border, so it would be accessible, but I also wanted to locate the office on a property that paid tribute to our nation’s history.”

The congressman said he will also have another satellite office in Queens.

The former Nassau County executive officially became a member of the 115th Congress this week.

“It’s a great honor to be entrusted as your voice in the nation’s capital,” he said. “I look forward to working with all of you and my colleagues in Washington, from both sides of the aisle, to get things done for the families of Long Island and Queens.”

Suozzi defeated Republican challenger Jack Martins (R-Mineola) in November, and inherits former Congressman Steve Israel’s (D-Huntington) seat, who announced late last year he would not be seeking re-election.

“This race has really been about the values my dad taught,” Suozzi said during his post-results speech at The Milleridge Inn in Jericho Nov 8. “I’m going to need everyone in this room to help me because if I stick my head up and say something that’s not the normal thing to be said, they’re going to try and smack us down.”

He added regardless of the results of the presidential election, “we really need to do some soul searching,” referencing health care coverage, the shrinking middle class, immigration reform, climate chance, gun violence and the tax code. He said there’s more important work to be done.

“We have to figure out what’s going on in the country,” he said. “We need to figure out how to bring people back together again to work together.”

Photo by Alex Petroski Tom Suozzi speaks to voters. Photo by Alex Petroski.

Overall Suozzi earned 6,532 votes, Stern garnered 4,069 votes, Kaiman collected 4,060, Kaplan saw 2,815 and Clarke received 909

Former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) came out on top after Tuesday’s Democratic primary, beating out four other candidates vying for the nomination in New York’s 3rd Congressional District.

After declaring victory, Suozzi was set to take on Republican state Sen. Jack Martins from Old Westbury in November for the seat of Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). The former county executive and mayor of Glen Cove beat out Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills), former North Hempstead Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman (D-Great Neck), North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan and attorney Jonathan Clarke Tuesday.

Israel announced back in January that he would not seek re-election after 15 years in Congress.

Overall Suozzi earned 6,532 votes, Stern garnered 4,069 votes, Kaiman collected 4,060, Kaplan saw 2,815 and Clarke received 909.

In Suffolk County alone, Stern took first with 2,540 votes, according to the Suffolk County Board of Elections unofficial results, and Suozzi came in second with 1,044 votes. But Suozzi took the lead in Nassau County and Queens, with 3,977 votes and 1,511 respectively, according to each area’s board of elections.

Suozzi said Wednesday morning that he is excited to continue to work for his constituents after the support they showed for him last night.

“I am so grateful and appreciative to the voters… for supporting me in the Democratic primary,” he said in a statement.  “It is clear the people in the district are looking for someone who has the ability to cut through the blame-game, finger-pointing and yelling that’s coming out of Washington these days. I look forward to meeting and talking to all of the voters and have a discussion with both sides on many of the issues to come up with solid solutions.”

Suozzi served as county executive of Nassau from 2002-09 and mayor of Glen Cove from 1994-2001, but has been out of politics for about six years. He is a certified public accountant and is currently of counsel to Harris Beach law firm in Uniondale. He lives in Glen Cove with his wife Helene and their three children. In his time in office, Suozzi said he fought to root out corruption in state politics and was named environmentalist of the year by the New York League of Conservation Voters, a statewide environmental organization.

Stern said although he didn’t win, he intends to stand behind Suozzi in the general election.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern. File photo by Rohma Abbas
Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern. File photo by Rohma Abbas

“I ran for Congress to stand up for a woman’s right to choose, protect our precious environment and to end the [National Rifle Association’s] grip on Congress,” Stern said in a statement. “While we did not prevail at the polls, the fight for these critical issues — and to make Congress work for New York’s middle-class families again — goes on. Now, it is time for everyone to unite behind our nominee to ensure that our Congressional seat stays Democratic in November.”

Stern was backed by Israel, and is in his sixth term as a Suffolk County legislator in the 16th Legislative District. He is the chairman of the county’s Veterans Committee and has worked on many projects to help increase the quality of life for veterans on the North Shore.

Kaiman echoed Stern’s sentiment to rally behind the Democratic nominee.

“[Tom Suozzi] will be a strong and successful candidate in November and an effective representative come next year when he takes his seat as United States Congressman for the 3rd Congressional District of New York,” he said in an email.

Kaplan and Clarke did not immediately return calls for comment.

Jon Kaiman (right) receives an endorsement from Jon Cooper (left) for his candidacy as the Democratic nominee in the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat. Photo by Alex Petroski

With the race for outgoing U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s seat heating up, a new contender from Nassau County has thrown his hat into the race.

Jon Kaiman (D-Great Neck) is one of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Congressional District seat, which spans from Northeast Queens, Huntington and Smithtown. Israel (D-Huntington), who has publicly endorsed Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) for the job, has held the seat for the last 15 years but opted not to run for re-election.

At a press event last Thursday at Munday’s restaurant in Huntington, Kaiman said he’s felt some frustration with federal politics from his would-be constituents, but he’s confident his background and experience will help repair the relationship.

Kaiman previously served as North Hempstead’s town supervisor from 2004 to 2013. During that time he said he earned a reputation as a progressive Democrat willing to fight for social justice. He has also served as an advisor to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on his Superstorm Sandy Disaster Relief Program that helped homeowners and businesses recover after the storm.

“Part of this role that we play when we present ourselves as leaders is to define ourselves in a way that other people can have confidence that they know who we are and where we can go,” Kaiman said. “I think I’ve done that throughout my own history.”

People can look through his record, he said, as it includes programs that brought improvements to the lives of those he served.

One program he created, Project Independence, provided more than 50,000 senior citizens with services, such as transportation to supermarkets and medical appointments and access to nursing services and more, in an effort to help seniors continue living safely in their own homes.

Kaiman also mentioned high interest rates that students are paying on loans as an example of the disconnect between government and people. Though he doesn’t agree with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders that college should be free, Kaiman said he appreciates the light Sanders is shining on the issue because something needs to change. His campaign website he says he stands with Planned Parenthood, supports gun control measures and wants to combat climate change.

He received an endorsement from the former Democratic majority leader of the Suffolk County Legislature, Jon Cooper. Cooper joins former Queens Congressman Gary Ackerman as some of the higher-profile endorsements Kaiman has received on the campaign trail.

“Jon is a lifelong progressive Democrat who stands by his core values,” Cooper said of Kaiman during last Thursday’s press event. “He’s not afraid to take a position that may not be popular. If you hold your finger up to the wind and just see which way the wind is blowing and follow the polls, that may be the safest and easiest thing to do politically, but a leader should be willing to lead. That’s one reason why I decided not to endorse the other candidates and why I’m endorsing this gentleman.”

Apart from Stern, Kaiman faces Tom Suozzi, former Nassau County Executive; Anna Kaplan, North Hempstead Town Board member; and attorney Jonathan Clarke.

Kaiman’s history of fighting for social justice and his ability to work across the aisle were some of his more attractive qualities as a candidate, according to Cooper, who likened the congressional hopeful to Vice President Joe Biden in that regard.

Kaiman lives in Great Neck with his wife and three children.

The congressional Democratic primary day for New York is June 28. The winner will face Republican nominee New York State Sen. Jack Martins.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern. File photo by Rohma Abbas

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel’s announcement that would he would not see another term in the 3rd District, which spans from the North Shore of Queens through parts of Smithtown, has sparked discussion across the region about who will succeed him. Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) is the latest to throw his hat into the race for the seat.

Israel (D-Huntington) made the decision two weeks ago that he would not be seeking re-election in November, and legislators and lawmakers from across Long Island have been declaring their intention to fight for his seat. This week, Stern said he believes his record sets him apart from the rest as a candidate who listens to his neighbors.

“My record tells a story, it highlights issues that are important to me,” Stern said in a phone interview. “When my neighbors see what’s happening in Washington, they think their voices are not being heard. I know I will be the congressman that hears them.”

He said his record has consistently supported the local issues that are important to the residents of the 3rd District and many pieces of legislation he has drafted have become state and national models.

Stern said that with his family in mind, he created the Safe and Sustainable Procurement Act, which bans baby products made with BPA, a chemical found in plastics that can seep into the food or beverages inside the plastic containers and have harmful health effects.

“It was the first legislative initiative banning these type of products throughout the entire country,” he said. “I was proud that this local bill was used a model for other jurisdictions.”

This act was eventually adopted by the New York State Senate, the European Union and the Food and Drug Administration.

The Protect Our Fallen Heroes Act is another piece of legislation Stern created that expanded to the national level. The purpose of this act, he said, was to protect the sanctity of funerals, specifically military funerals, from protesters.

Stern said this is now the adopted policy of all national cemeteries. The federal version of the bill, Respect for America’s Fallen Heroes Act, was first enacted by Congress in 2012, two years after Stern’s original bill was drafted.

Recently, Stern worked with Israel to adopt Stern’s Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act into a federal bill to provide housing for homeless veterans.

Stern also said many of his initiatives were accomplished with bipartisan support on the county level.

“I have a proven leadership, working with colleagues from both parties,” he said. “The way that I have been able to do my job, it clearly shows I am a representative that is sorely needed in D.C.”

Israel has served in Congress for the last 15 years, and said that after this year he feels it is his time to step down and make room for a new perspective.

“While I will miss this place and the people I have had the privilege to serve, I am looking forward to spending more time home,” he said in a statement. “Simply put, it’s time to pass on the torch.”

Stern said Israel would be missed, but also said he is eager to continue his legacy, which includes continued support for veterans.

“I have had the great privilege of working with Congressman Steve Israel for the past 10 years,” Stern said in an email. “He has been an outstanding advocate for our community and especially for our men and women currently serving our great nation.”

Stern gave Israel kudos for his collaboration on the legislator’s Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act and said it was an honor to work alongside him.

Aside from Stern, Suffolk County Legislator William “Doc” Spencer (D-Centerport), Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) and state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R-Huntington Station) are among the North Shore politicians who intend to campaign for the seat. From Nassau County, North Hempstead Town Board member Anna Kaplan threw her hat into the ring.

by -
0 757

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel is stepping aside at the end of the year, declining to run for another term in the House this November, after what will be 16 years as the Democratic representative for the Huntington and Smithtown areas. But his departure will affect more than just western Suffolk County.

Long Island residents in general should be paying attention to the 3rd Congressional District seat in the coming year. Our officials at the federal and state levels work with their neighboring colleagues to get things done that benefit Long Island — sometimes in a quid pro quo sort of way. That means that no matter the elected body or who our representative is, the priorities and the character of the person who is elected in the next district over from us are important. And with Israel gone, no matter who is elected to replace him, Suffolk County will have two longtime congressman exiting in two years, after Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) unseated Democrat Tim Bishop in 2014.

That’s not to say that new blood is a bad thing.

Zeldin kept himself busy during his first year in the House, authoring several bills. Most recently, he introduced the Earnings Contingent Education Loans (ExCEL) Act of 2015, which aims to help young people manage their federal student loan debt by making the repayment system more flexible, with payment amounts based on the borrower’s salary. And in interviews with this newspaper, Zeldin has called being a newcomer a positive — party leadership supports their freshmen, he said, because they want to help them retain their seats.

We appreciate Israel’s long service to our community. That being said, electing a new point of view to Congress has the potential to be a good thing for Long Island, which is in a state of flux as we try to plan our economic and environmental future.

3rd District candidates, all eyes are on you.

Congressman Steve Israel speaks on the dangers of hoverboards at the Commack Fire Department on Dec. 15. Photo by Victoria Espinoza.

One of this year’s hot holiday items might be a little too hot.

Hoverboards have been flying off the shelves this holiday season, but recent safety issues, including multiple cases of boards catching fire or exploding, have given some shoppers pause. That’s why U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D) gathered with members of the Commack Fire Department Tuesday and urged consumers against buying hoverboards specifically made in China, because he said the type of batteries used in them may ignite.

“Hoverboards may be the hot holiday gift, but they are literally catching on fire and igniting questions about their safety and the safety of lithium-ion batteries,” Israel said. “New Yorkers should remain hesitant before purchasing these hoverboards and stay vigilant while using and charging them.”

Hoverboards are self-balancing and electronic two-wheeled devices on which people can travel from place to place. When riding one, a person may appear to be levitating, or hovering, similarly to those on the hoverboards featured in the film “Back to the Future II.”

Israel stood beside a photo display of several fires that the Commack department had already responded to where hoverboards caused combustion inside someone’s home, destroying property and, sometimes, entire rooms.

Hoverboards shipped from overseas use lithium ion batteries, which can combust if heated or overcharged due to their limited voltage range. Israel called for more research from the U.S. Department of Energy on the safety of using lithium ion batteries in hoverboards.

The congressman also noted that airports already task their security personnel to remove all lithium ion batteries from checked bags for the same reason.

“Well if we know that those lithium ion batteries could be a hazard to the plane, and we know a hover board with a lithium ion battery could be hazardous to our homes, that says we need to do a little bit more research,” Israel said.

Commack Fire Marshal Joe Digiose flanked the congressman on Tuesday and said he urged residents to be careful when buying hoverboards until more research is completed. He said there is no research that shows the American-made products are not working well, but the ones from overseas pose more of a danger and are being shipped at a very high rate to the United States.

“We recommend you don’t buy them but if you do, buy an American-made one,” he said.

Don Talka speaks on research of lithium ion batteries at the Commack Fire Department on Dec. 15. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Don Talka speaks on research of lithium ion batteries at the Commack Fire Department on Dec. 15. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

Don Talka, senior vice president and chief engineer at Underwriters Laboratories has been involved in research on lithium ion batteries for years, starting back when they were involved with similar issues in laptops. He said the major problem is the mating of the battery with the rest of the electronics used in the hoverboards.

“What we’ve learned through our research … is that the combination and how these pieces interact causes the issues,” Talka said. “And how the batteries are charged and discharged are all items which need further investigation.”

At the press conference, Israel inspected the box that a hoverboard came in, and said that despite all the instructions and caution labels about the product, there is nothing to be said about the battery.

“That has been established as one of the single greatest threats to property and potentially lives when they’re coming from China,” Israel said. “That’s why we want to comply with the energy chair to fully research this and make sure that people aren’t being exposed to greater risk and threat by lithium ion batteries.”

Huntington Town Councilwoman Susan Berland, Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone, John Ross, Senator Carl Marcellino, Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica, Congressman Steve Israel and Asharoken Deputy Mayor Pamela Pierce cut the ribbon at the new Asharoken Village Hall. Photo by Steve Silverman

The new Asharoken Village Hall officially opened its doors with a dedication ceremony on Nov. 24, ending a 10-year journey of replacing a battered building at the center of the village.

“So many people came to join in on the festivities,” Asharoken Trustee and Police Commissioner Mel Ettinger said, referring to the more than 100 residents who gathered with Mayor Greg Letica, the board of trustees, Congressman Steve Israel (D-Huntington) and New York State Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset). “It made it a fantastic event and a phenomenal success in every way possible.”

The new village hall opened for business last month and is a large expansion from the previous building — the ground floor alone is about 3,000 square feet. There is a larger, improved space for the police station, and the whole thing was built to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient, with LED lighting and spray-foam insulation.

According to a statement, Letica said at the dedication that the process to get to the finish line has been long, and that Ettinger was a key player from the start.

“The project to build a new village hall was actually started almost 10 years ago … initially as an expansion to our old village hall,” Letica said. But funding either an expansion or a construction of a new building was always a major concern.

Ettinger said he started organizing the renovation project when he first became police commissioner, and was told he could go ahead with it as long as it didn’t increase taxes. That was when Ettinger decided to raise the money through donations.

Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica and Trustee and Police Commissioner Mel Ettinger at the front entrance of the new village hall. Photo by Victoria Espinoza
Asharoken Mayor Greg Letica and Trustee and Police Commissioner Mel Ettinger at the front entrance of the new village hall. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

“Within the first 10 days of announcing that, I received a check for $10,000 from a resident,” Ettinger said. “Before you knew it, people were sending in checks and pledges left and right. And within the next year and half, we already had $175,000.”

But when Hurricane Sandy hit three years ago, irreparably damaging the structure, the village ditched all plans of renovating it. Letica said the storm forced everyone in village hall to abandon the building and start an “urgent project” to erect a new one.

Joan Ettinger, Mel’s wife, formed the Asharoken Fundraising Committee, which according to Letica, ended up raising $360,000 from more than 200 residents and “has enabled the village to fund the cost of this beautiful building.”

Letica said funding was also made possible with help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which reimburses municipalities for repair work following natural disasters.

“Congressman Israel was extremely helpful with … processing our claim with FEMA and I am certain that if not for his personal support and efforts we would have not be able to receive the grant of $538,855,” Letica said.

He also said Marcellino helped the village obtain an additional $50,000 grant.

The total project cost about $950,000.

The new village trustee meeting room on the building’s first floor will soon have a donor board, where the names of people who have donated will be showcased.

Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern joins Congressman Steve Israel at the site of a zombie home in Dix Hills. Photo from Amanda Lindner.

One North Shore lawmaker’s proposal to provide housing to homeless veterans is now being used as a model for a federal bill.

U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) introduced the Housing Our Heroes Act this month, which creates a three-year federal pilot program that provides grants to purchase and renovate zombie homes for veterans use. That proposal reflects similar sentiments expressed in legislation Suffolk County Legislator Steve Stern (D-Dix Hills) drafted last year.

The Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act, signed by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) in December 2014, allows for “zombie homes,” or tax-defaulted properties, in Suffolk County to be distributed to veterans.

“No soldier who has ever worn the uniform of our great nation and gone off to protect the ground we stand on should ever have to come home to sleep on it,” Stern said in a statement.

Israel’s legislation is an expansion on an act from Stern, who serves as chairman of the Veterans and Seniors Committee.

“My legislation will not only put a roof over our heroes’ heads, it will also transform unsightly zombie homes into renovated properties that will revitalize housing markets in many of our Long Island communities,” Israel said in a statement. “Whenever we get the opportunity to eliminate two problems with one sustainable solution, we should act on it.”

Israel’s proposal would make grants available to veteran service organizations, non-governmental organizations and homeless organizations. It is intended not only to house homeless veterans but also eliminate blight from neighborhoods, the lawmaker said.

Stern praised Israel’s legislation for helping to ensure “that our military heroes have a place to call home while turning blighted properties into houses fit for heroes.”

According to Stern, he and Israel always saw his act as a model to use at the federal level.

“I’m proud to say we implemented it at a local level,” Stern said in a phone interview. “What we started here is serving as a national model.”

One of the big differences between Stern and Israel’s acts is the funding.

Stern said at the local level, they are utilizing properties the government already owns because of foreclosure. Israel’s legislation doesn’t need to rely on those types of homes because of the funding they receive from grants, so “there is real opportunity for innovation with the spectrum of properties.”

He also said these two bills will complement each other going forward.

Approximately 50,000 homeless veterans are on the streets of the United States every day, including more than 2,500 in New York, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Blighted properties have been an ongoing issue in Huntington Town.

“Huntington residents have been dealing with the zombie home epidemic in our neighborhoods for far too long,” Huntington Councilwoman Tracey Edwards (D) said in a statement.

Edwards said Israel’s legislation would improve both the lives of veterans and the worth of Huntington resident’s homes.

At a press conference announcing Israel’s proposal on Nov. 9, Gina Raio Bitsimis, a Dix Hills resident and zombie home neighbor, thanked Israel for his commitment to tackle this problem.

“Zombie homes aren’t only eyesores in our neighborhood, they are actively reducing the value of our homes that we have worked so hard to maintain,” Bitsimis said in a statement. “My family and I will welcome these brave men and women into our neighborhood with open arms and look forward to the increase of both our quality of life and the value of our property.”

Huntington Councilwoman Susan Berland (D) previously drafted legislation to crack down on blighted properties, and said in a phone interview that the zombie house in Dix Hills, where the press conference was held was the exact house that inspired her to draft an anti-blight act.

“I saw the condition of the house and how it affected the neighbors,” she said. Her legislation includes a point system that determines if a property should be added to the town blight list and enters a restoration agreement with the town.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also said in 2009 that the homeless veteran population was more than 74,000 in a single night and last year more than one in ten of every homeless adult were a veteran.

At the press conference in Dix Hills, members of veteran organizations from Long Island spoke about the necessity of the bill.

“Placing homeless veterans in these homes will give them the opportunity and foundation they need to become independent successful members of our community,” said Frank Amalfitano, director of United Veterans Beacon House.

Beth Gabellini, regional director of Long Island Supportive Services for Veteran Families echoed the sentiment.

“After fighting for our country, veterans deserve every opportunity possible to help get back on their feet and on track,” she said.

Social

9,375FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,155FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe