The Leviticus Fund presented its 2021 Cornerstone Award to the nonprofit Concern for Independent Living and its Executive Director, Ralph Fasano, in recognition of its work for social equity and poverty relief.
“Concern has done truly extraordinary work under Ralph Fasano’s leadership for over 28 years,” said Greg Maher, Leviticus’ Executive Director in announcing the award recipient at the Fund’s May 20th Annual Meeting. “They have received no less than 13 awards for their organizational vision and housing projects, which provide over 1,500 units of permanent affordable housing and supportive services to residents across Suffolk and Nassau counties, and Brooklyn and the Bronx.”
Concern traces its roots back to 1972, when central Long Island was home to three state-run psychiatric hospitals that combined had over 30,000 patients. Concern’s founders sought to create community-based residential facilities that would provide compassionate, personalized care for individuals in their journey toward healing. Yet, as Mr. Fasano recalled, there were very few housing options at the time.
“We started creating smaller community residences of eight to twelve people. It was transitional housing, but on Long Island there was no place to transition to other than poverty,” he said.
Concern began developing a variety of supportive housing options, including housing integrated within neighborhoods called scattered site, and has since expanded to develop both supportive and mixed-income affordable housing. Leviticus has financed four of Concern’s housing projects to date, including Liberty Landing in Lake Ronkonkoma that recently received a Smart Growth Award from Vision Long Island. Liberty Landing was completed in 2016, providing housing for veterans and households earning at or below 50% of area median income.
“You meet families that are at the cusp of poverty, and we should not be waiting for people to become homeless before we help them,” Mr. Fasano said. “We can give people the housing that they need, and create systemic change and empower people. That is where our two missions come together, and I thank the Leviticus Fund for honoring us.”