In an exciting development for the Freeport Housing Authority and the community it serves, the agency has moved into its new administration building, at 100 N. Main St.
The housing authority offers low- and moderate-income families in the village housing options it describes as accessible and affordable. It supports more than 2,000 low-income residents and promotes affordable living by managing Section 8 housing choice vouchers and public housing apartments.
A ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony took place on Sept. 13, marking a significant step forward for the authority, which had been operating out of a temporary facility for over a decade after its old headquarters, on Buffalo Avenue, was severely damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
The storm, in October 2012, devastated Freeport, damaged the Moxey Rigby low-income housing complex’s and left the authority offices all but submerged by five feet of water and debris. Since then, the agency has occupied the Housing Authority Community Center, on South Main Street.
The ribbon cutting was attended by a diverse group of officials, including representatives of the federal, state and local governments. Among them were Luigi D’Ancona, director of the New York Office of Public Housing; Mayor Robert Kennedy; Trustee George Martinez and several village officials.
John Hrvatin, executive director of the housing authority, spoke about the transformation the agency has undergone over the past decade. He highlighted its financial turnaround, and its continued commitment to addressing tenants’ and residents’ needs and concerns.
The new headquarters, Hrvatin said, has been welcomed not only by the staff, but also by residents. It now offers a professional setting where tenants can discuss their personal and financial matters in private, thanks to separate conference rooms — a marked contrast to the previous open office space.
“The staff and our residents have warmly welcomed the change,” Hrvatin said.
The new offices also boast hurricane resiliency. Equipped with hurricane-proof windows and located above the village’s flood zone, the building will allow the housing authority to remain operational during major weather events.
“The most important thing about this project is we built a hurricane-resilient building and we (can) now be fully operational,” Hrvatin said. “God forbid there’s another superstorm or hurricane on its way. We’re also not in the flood zone anymore. So I think just having this location is a big benefit to the Freeport Housing Authority.”
In addition to the new headquarters, the agency is also committed to improving the community center, where it operated for years. It plans to enhance lighting and flooring and to add amenities including new sofas, tables, TVs, and even a fireplace. The upgrades are the authority’s way of giving back to the tenants a place that played a significant role in its operations for the past decade.
The renovations were set to begin on Sept. 18, Hrvatin said, and were expected to take roughly two months, “with the aim,” he added, “of providing an improved facility for the holidays.”
Hrvatin also stressed the importance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s support in the still-ongoing recovery from Sandy, acknowledging that many in the community are still dealing with the widespread damage the storm left in its wake.
“This is a significant part of FEMA’s recovery process,” he said, “and while progress has been made, there are still households and individuals grappling with the long-lasting effects of Hurricane Sandy.”