Rockland Co. developer, officials offer housing to vets

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A Rockland County developer teamed up with county officials to offer war veterans returning from overseas affordable housing in the greater New York area.

The developer, Howard Hellman, purchased the Hudson Pines Condominiums off Route 202 in Haverstraw three years ago and invested $1 million to renovate the 36 units and make a sizable profit. But that was not to be.

?Initially, we were going to market the property at market rate, and that market rate dropped,? Hellman says, ?so we thought we would try something unique, make lemonade out of lemons.?

Hellman joined forces with Rockland County's Director of Veteran Affairs Jerry Donnellan to transform the condos into affordable apartments for veterans.

?You have the folks coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq who are on the younger end of the scale, possibly looking for their first place to live, and they can get into a situation like this for perhaps a little more than what they'd pay for rent in a normal apartment,? Donnellan says.

Besides young war veterans, older servicemen, firefighters and other first responders can also take advantage of the affordable housing, which includes one bedroom units going for $152,000 and two bedroom units for $187,000.

Cpl. Jack Frewley, of the U.S. Marines, says the financial help from Hellman and Rockland County makes the dream of ownership a real possibility.

?Having your local community actually take steps helping out other people shows that they really do care about you and they do appreciate what you've done,? he says.

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