Two New Homes Dedicated in Riverside - 27 East

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Two New Homes Dedicated in Riverside

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Town officials and one of the families at the dedication ceremony in Riverside on Friday. DAN STARK

Town officials and one of the families at the dedication ceremony in Riverside on Friday. DAN STARK

Local officials gather with a family to celebrate their new home in Riverside. DAN STARK

Local officials gather with a family to celebrate their new home in Riverside. DAN STARK

Jimmy Jack speaks at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

Jimmy Jack speaks at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

Curtis Highsmith Jr. speaks at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

Curtis Highsmith Jr. speaks at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

Southampton Town Councilman Michael A. Iasili speaks at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

Southampton Town Councilman Michael A. Iasili speaks at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

A family cuts the ribbon at their new home. DAN STARK

A family cuts the ribbon at their new home. DAN STARK

Inside the kitchen at one of the new homes in Riverside. DAN STARK

Inside the kitchen at one of the new homes in Riverside. DAN STARK

The crowd at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

The crowd at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

One family cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

One family cuts the ribbon at the dedication ceremony on Friday. DAN STARK

Dan Stark on Jun 19, 2024

The Southampton Housing Authority and Habitat for Humanity of Long Island hosted a ceremony to dedicate two new houses to two families on Friday, June 14, in Riverside.

The ceremony featured staff from both groups, Town of Southampton officials and local residents as they gathered with the two families to celebrate their new homes and cut ceremonial ribbons to mark the dedication.

Located on Vail Avenue, both houses feature three bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as an open concept living room and kitchen. The main entrances and hall bathroom are also ADA compliant to accommodate those with disabilities. The overall design goal of the houses was to make sure that they are “compatible for anyone to grow in and relax and live in easily,” according to Curtis Highsmith Jr., the executive director of the Southampton Housing Authority.

The ceremony started with a speech from Jimmy Jack, a pastor who serves as the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Long Island.  He emphasized that the new houses are “homes of hope” for the new families as they move in.

“I always share with everybody that there’s no place like home, and this is a home of hope,” Jack said. “And the hope is that they have their security, their love and their family.”

Jack also added that “although they live on a dead end, this house is full of life and full of love.”

One of the main themes echoed by the speakers was that the process of building these houses was a collaborative effort between both the groups and community members and local businesses who supported their cause.

“What I saw as these homes started growing and developing, I saw schools, I saw families, I saw agencies and corporations and business and municipalities and banks,” Highsmith said. “I saw so many people come here and offer their time, talent and efforts, putting their hands in the pile to ensure that it takes a village to build a community.”

Southampton Town Councilman Michael A. Iasilli also shared similar thoughts to Highsmith about these houses being community projects.

“All of these projects that the housing authority does with Habitat is a testament to all of the work that we’ve been doing together,” Iasilli said. “This is what it means to make change in the community. And I’m so proud of the families for starting on this new wonderful journey.”

Members of the families, whose last names are not released by Habitat for Humanity, then addressed the attendees, where they encouraged those in attendance to get involved in these projects.

“Habitat is a phenomenal, phenomenal organization,” said Derek, one of the family members, “And I just ask, come out and help, because you’re literally supporting dreams, you’re literally supporting goals and you’re a part of that.”

Jack then led the crowd in a brief prayer to dedicate the home and mark the moment.

“Lord, you have made this beautiful moment for this beautiful family, with all of these beautiful people that we have worked together to dream and to make their dream come true,” he said. “And we’re all a part of this dream.”

The properties that the new houses are located on were acquired through Suffolk County’s 72H Transfer Program. In this program, the county forecloses on properties that have failed to pay taxes and then either sells them to the public or repurposes them for affordable housing, a term that Highsmith said shouldn’t be used to refer to houses in bad shape, but those that the middle class can afford.

“When people use the phrase ‘affordable housing,’ they think of something a little rundown or something not mandated or maintained properly,” he said in an interview before the ceremony. “But homes that are not affordable means that the workforce doesn’t have the opportunity to live in the communities where they work.”

Highsmith said this particularly applies to younger generations, as they have found it more difficult to find affordable housing options in the Town of Southampton. This results in fewer younger people purchasing homes and working in the area.

“Some people, like our youth and our next generation, don’t have the means and the opportunity to purchase homes in the communities they grew up in,” he said. “We’re losing that generation and we’re losing some powerful talent.”

In the case of these two properties in Riverside, the housing authority partnered with Habitat for Humanity. They have collaborated with them before on similar projects in the Town of Southampton. Highsmith said that the two groups’ collaborations have been “very successful thus far and we look forward to continuing to collaborate with them on future projects.”

Through Habitat for Humanity, families put their names into an open application pool to apply for houses that they can purchase with an affordable mortgage. The majority of the applicants are residents of the Town of Southampton, though this is not a requirement to apply.

Highsmith also said that the housing authority has other properties they will build upon soon in the eastern part of the town.

For more information, visitsouthamptonhousingauthority.net or habitatliny.org.

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