YONKERS, N.Y -- Every veteran should come back from service to a home and a job, period, according to Jim Killoran, Habitat for Humanity of Westchester’s chief executive officer.
“We live in a country of great contradictions,” said Killoran. “Where people can’t, kids can’t even dream of owning a home, and we keep throwing up luxury everywhere. I just don’t understand it.”
Killoran, is however, doing something about it. Habitat for Humanity dedicated two refurbished homes in Yonkers to two families of veterans on Tuesday, Veterans Day: the Ortiz and Roushion families.
“Me and Tara were among the percentage of people who were actually going to leave the state, but Jim and Habitat made it possible for us to actually stay and continue building our lives here,” said Jeff Ortiz, who served four years in Iraq and currently works in the auto industry in Yonkers.
Killoran says New York is unaffordable and the most exited state in the country. The policy of offering rental subsidies instead of home ownership is a complete failure, he said.
“I could have built everyone a house and a vacation house,” said Killoran. “It’s time to change our thinking. It’s irrational.”
The two homes, which are fitted with solar panels, in the newly named “Battle Hill” neighborhood on High Street should be complete in about a month.
Seeing his new home built from scratch has been “remarkable” for Michael Roushion, who spent eight years in the Marine Corps and did two tours in Iraq. Roushion is moving into the home with his wife, Nicole, two children, his sister and niece.
“I can see my kids will have a safe place to live, a secure place to live all the time, and a backyard which is hard to find in New York,” Roushion told Daily Voice.
Killoran says that these homes are two among Habitat for Humanity’s effort to buy up foreclosed homes and transform neighborhoods. Habitat’s Veteran Initiative is also responsible for building 19-year National Guardsman Ivan Arroyo’s future home on Purser Place.
Habitat has also hired 10 veterans to full-time and part-time positions, has rehabilitated four American Legions and Veterans of Foreign War posts and has helped many senior veterans repairs their homes.
The not-for-profit’s work is possible through its thousands of volunteers, as well as its donors.
Those who were in attendance Tuesday included cadets from West Point, as well as representatives from Con Edison, Levitt-Fuirst, Goldman Sachs, Cisco and Yonkers, Ardsley, Fox Lane, Horace Greeley, Stepinac, Roosevelt and Thornton-Donovan high schools.
To volunteer or donate to Habitat for Humanity Westchester visit habitatwc.org .
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