Veterans returning from overseas assignments have many needs and problems, and a slew of agencies to try to help them.
A Jericho man has a unique role in this vast world of veterans’ services—he helps build houses for them.
Larry Sklar, director of Homes For Homecoming Heroes, has dedicated decades to helping veterans. In 2011, using his experience as a founding member of Habitat for Humanity, he formed the new group to bring together architects, contractors and others who donate materials and expertise to build houses as affordably as possible. The 501c volunteer organization depends on contributions to help pay for construction costs.
On Jan. 16, Sklar joined with state Senator John Brooks (D-Seaford) and other elected officials to break ground on his group’s second home, in Freeport.
The 4,600-square-foot parcel at 108 Stevens St. has been empty ever since the county condemned a foreclosed house and took over the property.
This is the second lot that Sklar’s group has acquired from the county. The first was on Thorman Avenue in Hicksville, where he and his volunteers erected a two-story house in 2014. Then-Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano attended both the groundbreaking and ribbon cutting. Mangano’s offer to donate the site was approved by the Nassau County Legislature.
Brooks is the newly-appointed chair of the Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs and a veteran of the New York State National Guard. He noted that the Senate Majority Conference will make it their mission to provide veterans an opportunity to buy quality housing at an affordable cost.
According to a press release, “Brooks has identified three key areas—health, employment and housing—as priorities for his committee and its focus this legislative session.”
“New Yorkers who put our nation’s interest ahead of their own and served in our armed forces are owed a debt of gratitude that can never truly be repaid,” Brooks said. “These heroes acted selflessly when they put their lives on the line to defend the freedoms we know today. Larry Sklar, and the incredible volunteers of Homes for Homecoming Heroes, are providing affordable, quality housing to veterans and allowing them to excel in their civilian lives, not to simply pick up where they left off.”
“I would like to thank Senator Brooks and the Village of Freeport for their support of this project. Providing affordable housing to our veterans is just one way of showing our gratitude to those who protect our freedoms,” Sklar said.
A lottery will be put in place to determine who will get a chance to purchase the finished home. Contact Sklar at 646-641-8460 for more information on the lottery, donating and volunteering.
Eligibility includes an honorable discharge, at least a 600 credit score and an annual income between $50,000-$72,000 a year.
Sklar told Anton Media Group that the buyer will need to put down 1 percent plus the cost of construction. A 30-year fixed mortgage will be offered through the State of New York Mortgage Agency.
A profile of Sklar in the New York Times stated that his Army basic training in 1962 was cut short for medical reasons.
“I’m not a veteran,” Sklar insists. “I’m a veterans’ advocate. I serve those who serve ‘U.S.’”