The ribbon-cutting celebrated 135 units of new affordable/supportive housing open to the community and veterans.
On the gorgeous, breezy morning of Nov. 20th, a crowd of supporters gathered near the Coney Island shoreline to celebrate Concern for Independent Living and Georgica Green Venture’s opening of Surf Vets Place. State and city elected officials, community board members, funding partners and other Concern staff sat in a bright community room to applaud the beautiful new apartment building, which includes 82 supportive units for formerly homeless veterans.
“This is the most beautiful affordable development in all of Coney Island!” said Council Member Mark Treyger representing District 47. He emphasized that the ribbon-cutting was not simply for a building, “but for the dignity and respect that is owed to our veterans.” He ended his remarks by saying “This is a game-changer for the Coney Island community.”
Ralph Fasano, Executive Director of Concern for Independent Living, reiterated his thanks to Concern’s partners, especially Georgica Green Ventures. In response to speakers’ compliments about the beauty of Surf Vets Place, he pointed out “we can’t do this in communities unless we do it really well.” David Gallo, President of Georgica Green Ventures, reiterated how great it had been to work with Concern.
A highlight of the event was a short video featuring several Surf Vets Place residents. In one interview, a resident named Diane exclaimed, “WOW! This is home! I love it!” Another resident said, “To me, this is like the beginning.”
After the video, Ralph introduced Michael Hein, Commissioner of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance/Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation (OTDA/HHAC), who said, “I’m glad the intro was long enough that I could wipe the tears from my eyes.” More seriously, he continued: “We ask a lot of our military servicemen, and it’s important that we give them the resources to readjust to life back in the states. I’ve never been more impressed by the dignity afforded to the people who live here, who deserve it so much.”
Emily Lehman, Assistant Commissioner of Special Needs Housing at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development (HPD), also elaborated on the importance of supportive housing and admitted that the project held an especially warm place in her heart.
Nicole Branca, Assistant Commissioner and Senior Advisor at the NYC Department of Veterans’ Services, mentioned the intensive work her team had done to identify the veterans now enjoying their new home. “If there’s anything you take away from what I’m saying,” she added, “it’s to please keep building supportive housing for veterans!”
Other proud partners who spoke included Maria Kolaitis, Downstate Director of Development for NYS Homes and Community Renewal (HCR); Brett Hebner, Director of the Bureau of Housing Development and Support at the NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH); Henri Williams, Director of the Bureau of Housing Services at the NYS Office of Addiction Services and Support (OASAS); Eddie Mark, District Manager for Community Board 13; Clarence L. Burleigh II, Director at BNY Mellon; and Tony Thesing, Vice President of the National Equity Fund.
Surf Vets Place is a nine-story, mixed-used development close to the Coney Island boardwalk, Luna Park, and Brooklyn Cyclones stadium. The units are studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, and there is an exercise room, community room, and computer room for residents.
Concern’s on-site supportive services are funded by both the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI), administered by NYS OASAS, as well as OMH.
Capital funding was provided by the Housing Finance Agency, NYS OMH, NYS OTDA/HHAC, and NYC HPD. NYCHA provided project-based Section 8 vouchers. BNY Mellon was the primary investor and National Equity Fund syndicated the tax credits. Nixon Peabody was the project attorney, and Christopher Betts offered consulting services.
Stephen B. Jacobs Group was the architect, and Glenwood Development was the general contractor.
Visit Concern for Independent Living's website for the video about the Surf Vets Place residents.