A disabled Navy veteran cut the ribbon on her new home Monday, moving into Columbia Terrace, a community designed for veterans.
“I am overwhelmed. This is my dream come true,” JoJo Maria Timpanero said. “My new home is beautiful. I can only say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without everyone’s concern and generosity for me, I would be homeless today. To walk into this beautiful home and know that is mine, itis mine to cherish, to have, it’s beyond belief. This is my home, this is where I belong, this is Huntington.”
Angel Cepeda, director of the Community Development Agency for Huntington, led the celebration of her ownership of the two-bedroom, two-bath unit at Columbia Terrace and Lowndes Avenue.
With her move-in, most of the units are spoken for.
The process of bringing the projection to completion has been arduous, with the state, county, builders, unions, veterans groups, insurance companies and banks all involved with their own requirements, and grants, each with their own spend-or-lose deadlines.
“What it (the development) shows is that things are possible when different levels of government work out,” Cepeda said. “While it hasn’t been smooth throughout this 10 or 12 year process, we have been able to see leaders at the federal, state and local level coming together so that this would benefit our residents.”
With her purchase, just one unit remains available, with veterans getting preference.The process of bringing the projection to completion has been arduous, with the state, county, builders, unions, veterans groups, insurance companies and banks all involved with their own requirements, and grants, each with their own spend-or-lose deadlines.
“First of all, JoJo, welcome to Huntington, welcome to Columbia Terrace,” Councilwoman Joan Cergol said. “This was truly a project in the making for many, many years. Precisely five CDA directors ago, one of which was me, no one could have ever known how complicated or how winding the road was going to be to get us to this place but this is what made it all worth it for us. Many of us sat at many tables and brainstormed for years. We did it all through grants, we bid it out numerous times. We couldn’t have gotten it done without the many partners we had.”
Suffolk Legislator Stephanie Bontempi spoke of actions the county legislature took to remove obstacles to ownership, and brought a plant as a housewarming gift for Timpanero. A Catholic priest blessed the house while Carol Rocco, coordinator of veterans affairs for the town, presented Timpanero with a cake and cookies to celebrate.
Timpanero served in the Navy from 1977 to 1983, when she was honorably discharged under medical conditions. After struggling, in 1989, the VA Northport assisted her and found her a group home and affordable housing for the last 20 years.
When her housing recently expired, Huntington’s Office of Veteran Affairs along with the Community Development Agency worked together to help her find the Columbia Terrace project. Numerous organizations, including veterans and United Way, helped her with the home.
Ground for the project was broken in November 2018.