Op-Ed: Increase in Disabled Population Demands Housing Solutions

Let’s acknowledge the significant population of young adults with disabilities in the Town of Huntington, including those in the Half Hollow Hills and surrounding school districts.

Despite their numbers, these individuals often lack a voice in the community. Many live with aging parents, creating a pressing need for independent living solutions.

The Melville Town Center project presents a unique opportunity to address this issue by setting aside a percentage of its residential units specifically for adults with disabilities. In Half Hollow Hills, the statistics speak volumes: in 2023, students with disabilities accounted for 22% of the student population. This marks a significant increase from 2013 when they represented 17% of the student population. In 2003, the percentage stood at less than 10%.

This substantial rise over the past two decades highlights the growing need for dedicated housing solutions and support services for individuals with disabilities. Designating a percentage of the housing in the Melville Town Center for adults with disabilities is not just a compassionate choice; it is a necessary step towards inclusivity and community support.

The increasing percentage of students with disabilities in the Half Hollow Hills district reflects a broader trend in the region. As these students transition into adulthood, the demand for suitable housing options will only grow.

Setting aside units now ensures that we are prepared to meet this demand and support our community members. Adults with disabilities often face significant challenges in finding affordable, accessible housing.

By securing dedicated units, we provide these individuals with the opportunity to live independently, reducing their reliance on aging parents or other family members. This fosters a sense of autonomy and self-sufficiency, which is vital for their personal growth and well-being.

Accessible housing in a community-centric environment like the Melville Town Center offers numerous benefits. The emphasis on walkability and proximity to amenities such as public transportation, healthcare facilities, and employment opportunities enhances the quality of life for residents with disabilities. It ensures they have the necessary resources to lead fulfilling lives.

Ensuring that people with disabilities have a place in the Melville Town Center strengthens the community’s fabric. It promotes diversity and inclusivity, allowing all residents to benefit from the unique perspectives and contributions of individuals with disabilities. This fosters mutual respect and understanding among community members

Many families with adult children with disabilities face significant stress and financial burdens. By providing dedicated housing, we offer these families peace of mind, knowing their loved ones have a safe and supportive living environment. This support extends beyond the individual to benefit the entire family unit. Inclusive housing projects can drive economic growth and social cohesion.

Residents with disabilities actively contribute to the community, participating in local events, patronizing businesses, and engaging in civic activities. This creates a vibrant, dynamic community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. The Melville Town Center project revitalizes vacant office and industrial buildings, offering residential units above storefronts, and fostering community cohesion and vibrancy. Extensive community engagement has shaped the project, with scheduled public hearings to ensure broad participation and feedback. The project addresses the diminishing demand for office space, promotes economic viability, and enhances community value.

Let’s come together to advocate for our disabled community members. By supporting the Melville Town Center project and ensuring a percentage of units are dedicated to adults with disabilities, we can create a more inclusive, supportive, and vibrant Huntington. Your voice matters. Join us at the next public hearing on June 11 at 7 pm and make a difference! We urge all parents of adult children with disabilities to attend and advocate for the allocation of residential units in the Melville Town Center. Together, we can ensure that their needs are met and their voices are heard.

Pilar Moya-Mancera is a Half Hollow Hills parent of a student with different abilities