Tags Posts tagged with "Affordable Housing"

Affordable Housing

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Site projections for Conifer Realty LLC apartment building. Photo provided by Port Jeff planning department

The eponymous Uptown Funk project in the upper portion of Port Jefferson village may soon be coming to a head.

Plans are under review at the Port Jefferson planning department for a new affordable apartment complex in the property known locally as Bada Bing for the now decrepit cafe that once occupied the site. 

“This is 100 percent attainable housing,” said Port Jeff Mayor Margot Garant.

Site details include it as a four-story project with 60 one-bedroom apartments. The site will also include 4,500 square feet of retail located directly adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road train station. Project notes said the site will be located in the Comsewogue School District.

Photo provided by Port Jeff planning department

The $4 million property development is being led by Upper Port Jefferson Village LLC, owned by Parviz Farahzad of East Setauket-based Little Rock Construction, which was in charge of building the retail complex across from the train station in Stony Brook. The developer is partnered with Conifer Realty LLC, a real estate development firm with projects across New York State and south into Maryland. Recently Conifer was at the head of the Peconic Crossing development in Riverhead, a development of 45 apartments giving preference to artists.

“We think Conifer is such a well-known name — they’ve done so many projects on Long Island and New York State that they’re a real credible partner at the table,” Garant said.

This project also includes plans for an underground parking garage incorporating 60 spaces, and the developer will need to pay a Payment in Lieu of Parking fee for all the spaces that would be required for retail, according to Port Jeff planning department documents.

Alison LaPointe, the special village attorney for building and planning, said Conifer has already submitted a formal site plan application for the development, and the planning board awaits amended plans from the applicant before continuing the environmental review process and to schedule public hearings.

All future plans for uptown port now depend on when the developers starts to put shovels in the ground. Uptown Funk was meant to be completed in three stages: the first being the Texaco Avenue parking lot, the next being the Metropolitan Transportation Authority parking lot, and the last being the creation of Station Street running just north of that train station lot.

This year the MTA has finished construction of the new parking lot at the Port Jefferson train station as part of a growing effort to modernize the more than century-old terminal.

In an update to its website, the MTA said the parking lot has been repaved and was officially open for use as of Jan. 9. The new parking lot includes new repainted lines that Port Jefferson village officials said were widened from before. Garant had said those old lines were too narrow for some vehicles. The end product means there are less spaces than there were previously.

“This is 100 percent attainable housing.”

— Margot Garant

This work was all part of the ongoing Uptown Funk project aiming to revitalize the upper port area. In 2017 the village was awarded $250,000 in jumpstart money to start plans on the project, and the village also applied for a grant from the Empire State Development Corporation, a state entity, for $500,000. Texaco Avenue parking lot, at 85 spaces, was planned to cost $850,000 when it started in May 2018. The village needed to wait until construction was finished on the LIRR parking lot, phase two of the project, before working on Station Street. The village has to wait until Conifer demolishes the Bada Bing site before starting construction on that new road.

The site construction includes a 10-foot setback on the property for the village to come in and develop Station Street, which will pass by the LIRR parking lot on the north end and connect to Oakland Avenue. 

Conifer is currently seeking approval for attainable housing partnership funding from New York State, according to Garant. She added the process for getting uptown revitalized has been long, from getting the state grant funding to finding developers willing to craft new spaces acceptable to the vision village officials have for the uptown area.

“I really have good feelings about what’s going to start happening up there, but it’s like pushing a boulder up a hill,” the villagemayor said.

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A rendering of the proposed development in Mount Sinai. Image from Steven Losquadro

With the sounds of senior living facilities construction echoing up and down Route 25A, another developer has one more project coming down the pipeline for Mount Sinai, this time for a facility geared toward millennials.

The proposed development, Mount Sinai Meadows, will be a 30-acre mixed-use majority rental and part commercial facility geared toward creating a living space for young adults and young professionals.

“For people in the ages of 20 to 34, an increasing subset of the population here on Long Island, there is not appropriate housing or opportunities for such individuals who wish to stay here,” said Rocky Point-based attorney Steven Losquadro, who is representing the developer. 

Representatives of the site’s developer Mount Sinai Meadows LLC, headed by Woodmere-based real estate developer Basser-Kaufman, attended a Town of Brookhaven board meeting March 14 seeking a change of zoning from J-Business 2 to Planned Development District along with approval of the draft environmental impact study. No final decision was made on the property, and the board confirmed it would leave the proposal open for another 30 days to allow for additional comments.

“We felt it was very important for us to broaden our offerings of housing.”

— Ann Becker

In terms of amenities, the site plans to have bike racks, walkable grounds, communal barbecue areas, electric car charging stations, a large open lawn for the use of residents and four spaces toward the northern end of the property that will be used for large retail spaces. There will be 21.78 acres used for residential housing, while 8.3 acres will be retail. 

The project looks to include 140 housing units, including 106 two-bedroom apartments and 34 one-bedroom apartments. Losquadro said none of the apartments will be subsidized housing.

Engineer Charles Voorhis, a partner of the Melville-based firm Nelson, Pope & Voorhis LLC, said the project includes a 170-foot buffer, incorporating a 40-foot natural buffer between the site and the surrounding woods and residential communities to the south and west of the planned development.

The Mount Sinai Civic Association president Ann Becker said approximately 20 percent of the housing stock in the hamlet is for those 55 and older. She said the developer has offered assurances that the development is not expected to bring in an overwhelming number of children into the Mount Sinai School District.

“We have worked with the developers and have been provided with assurances that the number of children … will not burden our community,” Becker said. “We felt it was very important for us to broaden our offerings of housing.”

A number of residents on Mount Sinai Facebook groups were concerned about the traffic impact these new developments could have. The developer’s representatives did not rule out a potential increase in traffic.

Maureen Bond, the communications director of the Mount Sinai-Miller Place Chamber Alliance, said she also supports the project.

“In my opinion, this is the best plan so far,” she said. “There are traffic issues that need to be addressed; however, I believe having traffic is better than having no traffic.”

The civic has been supportive of the development for years, helping to shape its identity into the millennial housing proposal. One of its most recent requests for the development was to ensure the developer would not seek and would not be given any financial assistance or tax aid from the town, especially any help from the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency. Two senior developments at the corner of Echo Avenue and Route 25A, one an assisted living facility, had recently been given a generous 13-year payment in lieu of taxes agreement, and though the civic had been supportive of that project, it was heavily against the loss of taxes from the PILOT.

“For people in the ages of 20 to 34, an increasing subset of the population here on Long Island, there is not appropriate housing or opportunities for such individuals who wish to stay here.”

— Steve Losquadro

The Mount Sinai Meadows project has been in the works for several years. Anthony Graves, Brookhaven town’s chief environmental analyst, said he had talked to Councilwoman Jane Bonner (R-Rocky Point) in 2012 about creating a “true town center” for each of the communities in Council District 2 along Route 25A. A prior project for the site was originally proposed by a different developer specifically for J-2 business zoning, Voorhis said. That project included 805 square feet of retail, 37,000 square feet of office and a 2,000-square-foot bank.

Representatives of the developer said there was no final decision on the expected price on the rentals, but Losqaudro said they have promised the civic it will be at market rate.

Voorhis added the developer is currently in talks with the owner of the neighboring strip mall to allow access between the two retail centers. The developer is also in talks about acquiring the neighboring music store property and incorporating it.

Graves said the town was interested in the PDD zoning because it could more accurately reflect the mixed-use nature of the proposed development.

“[We] believe this development is in the spirit of that original efforts we made in Mount Sinai,” the environmental analyst said. “We look at it as a true town center for Mount Sinai.”

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Susan Baldridge, center, shown here with her daughter Felicia and brother Michael, was one of the winners in Smithtown’s housing lottery. Photo by Susan Risoli

There were applause and cheers at the Town of Smithtown’s March 11 affordable housing lottery for seven new homes located at Country Pointe Woods at Smithtown.

LIHP executive vice president James Britz and LIHP executive assistant Linda Mathews draw names for Smithtown’s March 11 housing lottery. Photo by Susan Risoli

Sixty people applied for the chance to qualify to purchase the owner-occupied, one- and two-bedroom units located on Route 111. The average projected purchase price is estimated to be $350,100. Twenty-one people attended the lottery, which was offered by the town together with Long Island Housing Partnership and 347 Building Company LLC.

The drawing of names was held at town hall. Applicants did not have to be present to be considered, and their housing applications were ranked and will be processed in the order in which their names were drawn.

Smithtown adopted a Municipal Workforce Housing Policy in October 2017, in accordance with New York State’s Long Island Workforce Housing Act. The policy requires developers who build subdivisions of five or more units to create 10 percent of the development for affordable housing.

To be eligible to participate in the affordable housing lottery program, an applicant must be a first-time homebuyer and must meet all program requirements including a total household income not to exceed 130 percent of the area median income for Nassau and Suffolk counties. Applicants must have an acceptable credit history as defined by the program’s guidelines.

At the March 11 lottery drawing, LIHP executive vice president James Britz said housing lotteries help people who otherwise might not be able to afford to live in Suffolk County and specifically in the Town of Smithtown. Attracting these people to live and work in the area “is a critical component in helping municipalities continue to grow,” he said. Those who apply for the Town of Smithtown housing lottery are “a very good combination of different age groups and generations,” Britz said.

Susan Baldridge, 44, was No. 10 in the drawing, and she proudly proclaimed herself “Smithtown born and raised.” Baldridge currently is renting a place in Smithtown. She is a single mother with two daughters and said the opportunity to own a home in the town she loves “seems like fate.” The mother brought her brother Michael — “my good luck charm” — to the drawing, as well as her daughter Felicia.

People that benefit from affordable housing lotteries, said Town of Smithtown supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R), are young people who grew up on Long Island but can’t afford to live here.

“This is a very expensive place to live,” he said, adding he believes affordable housing “can work to keep our talented young people. It’s been proven to work in other municipalities.”

The town’s next housing lottery will be held March 26 at 10 a.m. at town hall. Applications must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. March 22. The housing to be offered will be three one-bedroom rental units and one two-bedroom rental unit at the 36-unit Hudson Place at Kings Park development.

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The phrase has become oxymoronic. It’s like a bad riddle: What is something everyone needs, but fewer people on Long Island can have?

They call it affordable housing. The real question is, affordable to whom?

Smithtown just recently hosted its second housing lotto in a year for affordable housing developments March 11. Another lotto is coming up to bat March 26 for three one-bedroom units with a total monthly gross rent of $2,300; and one two-bedroom unit with a total monthly gross rent of $3,200.

The Suffolk County Legislature’s Welfare to Work Commission, which advises the Legislature on issues related to poverty in the county, released a report in 2018 that detailed the holes in affordable housing and government programs.

Country Pointe Woods in Smithtown

The report describes that if a family wants to rent, only 18 percent of available housing is rental, compared to the national average of 37 percent. Market rate for monthly apartment rentals in Suffolk was $1,589 in 2017, according to census data, meaning families in that market would have to earn $57,204 — 52 percent of the area median income — a year if they spent 30 percent of their income on the apartment costs. In Smithtown, average rental costs are upward of $2,500 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to online rent tracker RENTCafé.

It’s hard to call such options such as the lottos in Smithtown truly “cheap,” mostly because each is only cheap by comparison.

The Town of Huntington hosted a lotto for Harborfields Estates March 5 with 608 first-time home-buyer applicants entered in that drawing. It’s a staggering number of people all bidding on the hope of owning a four-bedroom home valued $350,125. Real estate taxes on the unit are estimated to be $9,700 annually and estimated HOA fees will be approximately $460 annually.

The county report noted the 2017 Suffolk yearly median income was $110,800, while the median price of a home in 2017 was $376,000, according to census data. If an individual or family spent 30 percent of income on housing costs, the national and suggested average, they would have to earn $125,000 a year to afford the median home price.

These lotteries are an opportunity for the average person looking for a home on Long Island to have the chance to start a life here, but there’s also something dystopian about the entire idea of gambling a chance to be able to afford something as basic as a residence, whether that means renting or owning. Not to mention, anybody who is making less than the area median income knows just how tough it is to find truly affordable living anywhere along the North Shore.

It’s not to say these lotteries aren’t helping those whose names are drawn, but one wonders at the state of some of the hundreds of people who apply for these lottos who then walk away empty handed. While certainly a few of those applying may already own homes or rent apartments and are just looking for a cheaper option, the very nature of a lottery draws upon the desperate.

Municipalities at every end of the Island are complaining about brain drain, of Long Islanders fleeing to seek cheaper housing options elsewhere. Their governments need to look at the issue holistically and take an approach that affects communities as a whole, rather than give it to select individuals.

The second Harborfield Estates house to be raffled off in a housing lottery by the Town of Huntington. Photo from the Town of Huntington

By David Luces

More than 800 first-time homeowners will have a second chance at landing a contract to purchase an affordable home in Greenlawn.

After a successful housing lottery for Harborfield Estates last September, the Town of Huntington has begun accepting applications Jan. 15 from those interested in purchasing a second single-family home in the development.

‘Once again, a very lucky individual or family will have the opportunity to purchase a beautiful new home at an affordable price.’

—Leah Jefferson

First-time home buyers can file paperwork through Feb. 15 to place their names in the housing lottery for the four-bedroom, 2½-bathroom house priced at $350,125. The Greenlawn housing complex is a collection of 47 single-family homes on half-acre plots ordinarily starting at $800,000 each, according to the development’s website. A lottery will be held March 5 to choose at random an individual or family who will be
offered the opportunity to purchase the property.

“Once again, a very lucky individual or family will have the opportunity to purchase a beautiful new home at an affordable price,” Leah Jefferson, director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, oversees the town’s Affordable Housing Program said in a press release. “Homeownership is the American dream, and the Community Development Agency is looking forward to assisting someone with making that dream a reality.”

Lauren Lembo, Huntington’s spokeswoman, said the town had approximately 100 people who immediately signed up when the application process opened at midnight Jan. 15. The town received more than 800 applications for the first lottery house last summer.

“All of the people who signed up for the first lottery in September were notified, as they would have to sign up again for this one,” Lembo said. “We also notified past applicants and with the new income requirements, more people qualify.”

In order to qualify, those interested must be first-time homebuyers whom U.S. Housing and Urban Development defines as a person who has never owned a home, has not owned a home in the last three years or is a displaced homemaker. The purchaser must also provide documentation that their total income — including the salary of all adults age 18 and older, overtime, bonuses, pensions, Social Security, tips, etc. — does not exceed 80 percent of the area’s average median income of $98,050 for a single individual, increasing to $140,500 for a family of four, in accordance with federal guidelines set by HUD.

“All of the people who signed up for the first lottery in September were notified, as they would have to sign up again for this one.”

— Lauren Lembo

Lembo said all applicants must be able to secure a mortgage on their own. In addition to mortgage payments, the town has estimated potential owners will pay $9,700 annually in real estate taxes and $460 in homeowner association fees, which will be billed twice a year.

The two-story house constructed by developer Island Estate Homes will be a little more than 2,800 square feet and move-in ready by the fall 2019, according to Lembo. Priority will be given to applicants who are current residents or employed by a business located in the Town of Huntington, and nonresidents who can show they have relatives living in the Town of Huntington. Applicants who do not meet the criteria are welcome to enter the town’s affordable housing lottery as second priority.

Lembo said they have a computer set up in the CDA office at Town Hall and staff to assist if someone has trouble filling out the online application.

Anyone with questions regarding the application guidelines should contact the Huntington CDA at 631-351-2884.

Craig Turner, Town of Huntington’s principal planner; Matt Suter, a founder of the Save the Village civic group; Emily Rogan, a former Huntington school district trustee; and Eric Alexander, director of Vision Long Island, discuss affordable housing issues in Huntington. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Town of Huntington has made efforts to tackle the lack of affordable housing in the past, but the best method to do so isn’t always clear. Town officials attempted last week to open public channels of communication, as housing legislation proposing additional changes is being put up for public feedback.

That question and more was discussed at a Community Conversation on Housing for All held at the Cinema Arts Centre Nov. 17. Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said the issue has only become more apparent with time.

“If you look at renting someone’s basement, the average cost is $1,200,” Lupinacci said. “If you go for living in some of those beautiful new apartments in the village or elsewhere its $2,500.”

“If you look at renting someone’s basement, the average cost is $1,200.” 

— Chad Lupinacci

Huntington has hosted numerous lotteries for affordable housing, including a Sept. 5 lotto for a four-bedroom house in the Harborfields Estates housing complex in Greenlawn for $221,000. The supervisor said more than 800 applicants came out that day hoping their name would be chosen, but of course only one would be so lucky.

The town passed legislation in 2017 that required all new mixed-use developments in C-5 shopping center and C-6 general business zoning to consist of 20 affordable housing units. Yet, a 2018 study conducted by Huntington Township Housing Coalition found there are only 729 units of affordable housing in the township. The town would need 2,798 affordable housing units to meet demand by 2020, according to a 2016 HTHC report that used information from a 2005 Rutgers University study.

“In the private market, supply and demand will dictate what a property will sell for, but it’s important that once a home is built and it is offered as affordable, it stays affordable,” Lupinacci said.

Town officials, local advocacy groups and community members came to the forum in the early morning hours to hear what can be done to address affordable housing issues. The event featured information sessions on
issues of accessory apartments and how housing and apartment developments impact the town from an environmental, parking and community character perspective.

Accessory apartments

Since 1991, Huntington has allowed residents to acquire a permit to partition their households to use them as rental space. While this has allowed for an increase in the number of inexpensive living spaces within the town, it has also faced pushback from neighbors.

Joe Rose, the deputy director of the town’s public safety department, said there are approximately 1,750 accessory apartments spread evenly throughout every hamlet in Huntington. Yet, residents have complained about tenants taking up on-street parking spots in front of neighbor’s homes, as well as fears of illegal or problematic connected apartments.

“It’s the mystery of the accessory apartment, its ‘Who’s going to be living there, what are the conditions of it?'”

— Ed Nitkewicz

“We want to keep the integrity intact as far as single-family dwelling having very minimal impact,” Rose said. “Every single complaint is investigated by code enforcement.”

Ed Nitkewicz, an attorney who serves Huntington as the accessory apartments hearing officer, said residents often come to hearings arguing why these apartments should not exist in their neighborhoods. He frequently hears concerns about potential illegal or problematic rentable spaces. In response, Nitkewicz said most concerns are due to the mystique of these partitioned residences, and many issues can be directly reprimanded by town officials, unlike issues some might have of their regular neighbors’ homes.

“It’s the mystery of the accessory apartment, its ‘Who’s going to be living there, what are the conditions of it?’” Nitkewicz said. “Let’s say the applicant sells their house to the Brady family… And they all have cars — all of them park in the driveway, and you have no control over that. You can’t tell the Bradys to pump their cesspool, you can’t tell the Bradys the numbers on the house are viewable.”

The town board is considering new legislation that would allow residents to live in the smaller partitions of their homes, which would typically become the accessory apartment, and instead rent the majority of the available living space. A public hearing was held Nov. 20 at 7 p.m., after this publication’s press time.

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D) said she was very much in support of such an idea, but accessory apartments only address a small part of the affordable housing issue.

“The crux of it is that Huntington village sits atop a watershed that is 1.9 square miles. Anything you build on the watershed impacts this local ecosystem.”

— Matt Suter

“It’s one way to make an impact, but I think it’s easiest to have because we’re talking about existing inventory versus new inventory,” she said.

Impacts of new housing

While most elected officials and advocacy groups agreed there is a problem with a lack of affordable housing, several speakers said one cannot underestimate the environmental and community cost of increased development.

Matt Suter, one of the founders of the Save the Village civic group, has helped circulate a petition requesting that the town restrict allowing developers to build above existing storefronts in Huntington village by adding apartment space on top of existing retail or commercial spaces until a environmental review on the area is completed. He said he fears the increase of hundreds of apartments being built in the village could go on to escalate the already high amount of nitrogen in areas like Huntington Bay, which has led to a rash of dangerous algae blooms during the summer 2018.

“The crux of it is that Huntington village sits atop a watershed that is 9.4 square miles,” Suter said. “Anything you build on the watershed impacts this local ecosystem.”

Huntington’s Department of Planning and Environment is in charge of conducting the town’s State Environmental Quality Review Act surveys on any new developments. Craig Turner, the department’s principal planner, said stormwater and the nitrogen filtration is a problem in Huntington village, these new developments are not having that much of an effect because they are built on already developed sites.

“SEQRA asks us whether there are significant environmental impacts, not if there are any environmental impacts,” Turner said.

When the projects are planned with the local community, and there’s real local support, projects get approved, things get built, and people are generally happy with them.”

— Eric Alexander

One project that was often referred to was the Avalon Huntington Station venture, which started nearly a decade ago. Developer AvalonBay Communities looked to build a large-scale apartment complex as well as change the property’s zoning to Transit Oriented Development. Opponents feared the project would raise taxes and create higher population density.

Emily Rogan, who served 12 years on the Huntington school district’s board of education and was on the board when the Avalon Huntington project was underway, said one of the biggest fear residents expressed was that the project — if it went through as originally proposed — would increase the number of students in an already overflowing school district.

The town board ultimately voted down the initial proposal in favor of a revised version that Rogan said had no impact on the number of children in the district once completed.

“You can’t get stakeholder buy-in unless there is communication all throughout the process,” she said.

Eric Alexander, the director of regional smart growth planning organization Vision Long Island, said there are ways to build residential developments to minimize the impact on both the surrounding community and the environment.

“When the projects are planned with the local community, and there’s real local support, projects get approved, things get built, and people are generally happy with them,” Alexander said.

*This post has been amended to reflect Suter’s groups intentions and actual square miles of the Huntington watershed.

Huntington town officials, members of Veterans of War Post 1469 and Lipsky Construction representatives celebrate the official groundbreaking on a veterans housing complex in Huntington Station Oct. 30. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Columbia Terrace veterans affordable housing project, which has been promised for close to eight years, might be finally coming to fruition.

Town of Huntington officials, members of the Huntington Community Development Agency (CDA) and members of the local Veterans of Foreign War Post 1469 joined Bayport-based Lipsky Construction Oct. 30 to celebrate the start of the project’s construction.

Huntington Station has been waiting decades for neighborhood and economic revitalization, which over the past several years is beginning to mobilize,” Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R) said. “Our veterans and their families make many sacrifices to keep them safe, and we owe them the opportunity and ability for owning a home they can live in.”

Our veterans and their families make many sacrifices to keep them safe, and we owe them the opportunity and ability for owning a home they can live in.”

— Chad Lupinacci

The new development features 14 apartments at the corner of Lowndes Avenue and Railroad Street in Huntington Station. It consist of six, one-bedroom units and eight, two-bedroom condo-style apartments, according to CDA Director Leah Jefferson.

The project was put out to bid again in June with a budget of approximately $3.5 million, Jefferson said. Lipsky Construction was the lowest bidder and a contract signed in September. The project is expected to be completed within 300 days, and have all units sold and occupied by Sept. 30, 2019.

“When I heard it about veterans, I took extra steps to make sure we got on the project,” said Barry Lipsky, the president of Lipsky Construction.“It’s a matter of how much to give back.”

The costs of the units will be offered at 80 percent of the Nassau-Suffolk median income, according to town spokeswoman Lauren Lembo. The one-bedroom apartments  starting at $200,000.

The veterans housing project was first proposed back in 2010, according to Lupinacci. That same year, the CDA was awarded $1.56 million grant from the New York’s Empire State Economic Development Fund Program. An additional $2 million dollars were borrowed by the town from the town’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund And Agency Fund for the sake of the project, which will be paid back upon the sale of the apartments. Interim funding has been secured by Huntington’s elected officials through People’s United Bank in the form of a construction loan.

“What I found out over the years, veterans don’t ask for a lot. They’re not banging on doors saying ‘gimme, gimme, gimme.” 

— Rick Seryneck

Councilwoman Joan Cergol (D), former director of the town’s CDA, said one of challenges has been  rising costs compared to the amount of grant funding available.

The town has also secured $250,000 in funds from the county to go toward road realignment, curbing and street lighting, which Lupinacci said would be installed after construction is finished.

The supervisor said a lottery will be held to fill the apartments closer to the project’s completion.

Rick Serynek, a member of the Huntington Veterans Advisory Board, said he knows veterans who could make use of affordable housing. He said  many of those who have served are not the type to ask for help, even if they need it.

“What I found out over the years, veterans don’t ask for a lot. They’re not banging on doors saying ‘gimme, gimme, gimme,” Serynek said. “All they want is a fair shake.”

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As Election Day rapidly approaches, we have been busy at TBR News Media interviewing candidates for our 2018 election preview issue coming out Nov. 1. In grilling politicians on everything from taxes and education to women’s rights, there has been some striking presumptions made on a topic not directly raised, but one we feel can no longer be ignored.

There have been repeated statements made by incumbents and challengers alike about millennials and their desired future on Long Island that are misguided at best and blatantly wrong at worst.

Millennials, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, is a term for Americans born between 1982 and 2000. The oldest members of this population are turning 36 this year. No longer youths or young adults needing guidance, but full-time adult employees in your office and local businesses building their careers and families.

It’s inaccurate to say mid-30-somethings on Long Island aren’t at all interested in owning their own suburban home complete with the idealistic white-picket fence to raise a family in, just like the one many of us grew up in, as is regularly asserted by many candidates. It is not a question of desire, but of ability. Spending more than $450,000 on average for a house with an additional $10,000 or more per year in property taxes — according to a report released by property database ATTOM Data Solutions in 2017 — is simply not in the cards for many of this generation. Oh, and we’re well aware those property taxes will only continue to increase.

Politicians are quick to talk about how transit-oriented hubs will reduce the need for cars, as millennials like walkable communities and prefer to use public transportation. Walkable communities are great, but millennials, like every other generation, want to be able to afford to buy nice, new cars.

The 2016 American Community Survey, conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, found roughly 80 percent of Suffolk residents commute to work alone via car, truck or van, and an additional 8 percent carpool. Having and owning a car is necessary to get to and from work, grocery stores or visit friends. It’s also another added expense for a generation saddled with crippling student debt.

Another oft-repeated sentiment is this generation isn’t as interested in having and raising children or are doing so later in life. A middle-income, married couple should expect to spend more than $280,000 to raise a child born in 2015, with projected inflation factored in, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That’s a lot to consider in an area with a high cost of living and higher taxes, when the average worker’s wages are holding around the levels reached back in 1970, according to the Pew Research Center. Simply put, wages haven’t kept up.

These are real issues to those living on Long Island, millennials or not, cutting across all age groups. What we need are politicians in office who will make policies aimed at tackling these problems to improve our quality of life and keep the hope of the American Dream alive on Long Island. What we don’t need are more presumptions about people’s wants and desires.

Signing off, not just a millenial, but a multigenerational staff.

Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim, left of center, draws names in lottery for the San Remo affordable home. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Dozens of people crowded into the Town of Smithtown’s board room at 2 p.m. July 31 waiting eagerly for their name to be called.

Neil Coleman, of Lake Ronkonkoma, walked into the room and casually replied “Here,” as he had not yet realized his name was the first drawn in a lottery for the opportunity to purchase an affordable San Remo house — the first to be raffled off in Smithtown under New York State’s Long Island Workforce Housing Act.

Neil Coleman, 25, of Lake Ronkonkoma. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

“I was shocked,” he said. “I had barely made it through the door. I understand it was a lottery. It was luck of the draw, and I was the one picked today.”

Coleman, 25, works as an electrician for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 25 union. He lives with family members in Ronkonkoma and said he’s spent the last year and a half searching through real estate listings trying to find affordable housing.

“It’s daunting,” he said. “It’s difficult to find affordable housing at a young age.”

Coleman said in June he stumbled upon Long Island Housing Partnership’s website while searching for grant programs or assistance in obtaining housing. The Hauppauge-based nonprofit organization has helped aid more than 35,000 residents looking for affordable rentals or housing since 1988, according to its president and CEO Peter Elkowitz.

“It’s really important for us to recognize that affordable housing is a crucial issue here on Long Island,” Elkowitz said. “We all have family members who are living with us or who may not be on Long Island anymore. It’s important to keep our workforce here.”

LIHP worked in conjunction with Smithtown’s elected officials to host the lottery for the newly constructed 3-
bedroom, 1.5-bathroom workforce housing built on Locust Drive in Kings Park held on Tuesday. In order to qualify, applicants’ income can be no more than 120 percent of the median household income for Nassau-Suffolk counties as set by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Guidelines. For 2018, this limit is set for $112,500 for two individuals, increasing to $140,050 for a family of four. There were 39 families who applied for the chance to purchase the San Remo home by June 15.

This 3-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom home in San Remo was raffled off under the town’s workforce housing program. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for a family to be successful in coming into Smithtown and living in a beautiful, affordable home,” Smithtown Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R) said.

Coleman said he has a German shepherd that will be coming with him if he’s approved to move in the home. He must provide LIHP with income documentation and pass a credit check to demonstrate he meets the program’s requirements, according to Elkowitz, or the opportunity will pass to the next person on the list. Each applicant who entered the lottery was assigned a number as their name was pulled and will receive a letter documenting their ranking in the mail.

“This is the first of many units that will be built with an affordable price tag for our residents to come,” Wehrheim said.

The supervisor said construction is currently underway on seven more affordable workplace homes in the new Country Pointe Woods Smithtown development, off the intersection of Route 347/Smithtown Bypass and Route 111. The sale of these units will also be determined via lottery in conjunction with LIHP at a future date.

The four-bedroom affordable Greenlawn home in Harborfield Estates that will be sold for $221,000. Photo from Town of Huntington

One lucky family will have the chance to move into a new Greenlawn home for $221,000 — if they can beat the odds.

The Town of Huntington started accepting applications July 16 from first-time homebuyers interested in moving into a four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bathroom house in Harborfields Estates. The housing complex is a collection of 47 single-family homes on half-acre plots ordinarily sold at starting at $800,000 each, according to the development’s website. A lottery will be held Sept. 5 to choose at random an individual or family who will be offered the opportunity to purchase the property for about a quarter of the usual cost.

“This is a very unique opportunity for a first-time homebuyer,” said Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci (R). “The exterior is beautiful and I cannot wait to see what it looks like when the interior is complete.”

“This is a very unique opportunity for a first-time homebuyer.”

– Chad Lupinacci

Leah Jefferson, director of the Huntington Community Development Agency, which oversees the town’s Affordable Housing Program, said this is the first time the town is holding a lottery for a single-family home. The two-story house, constructed by developer Island Estate Homes, will be a little less than 2,8500 square feet and move-in ready by the 2018 holiday season.

She said she expects there to be high interest in the property. When town officials held a lottery for affordable senior housing at The Seasons in Elwood in January, the CDA director said nearly 400 applications were received for 10 available units.

“Even though there is only one unit for sale, I would not let that impede people from applying,” Jefferson said. “One person has as good of a chance as anyone else to obtain the unit.”

In order to qualify, those interested must be a first-time homebuyer which the town has defined as a person who has never owned a home, has not owned a home in the last three years or is a displaced homemaker. The purchaser must also demonstrate that their total income — including adult persons age 18 and older combined salary, overtime, bonuses, pensions, social security, tips, etc. — does not exceed 80 percent of the area’s average median income of $61,350 for a single individual increasing to $87,600 for a family of four, in accordance with federal guidelines set by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

“One person has as good of a chance as anyone else to obtain the unit.”

– Leah Jefferson

“[The purchaser] must give us three years information,” Jefferson said. “If their salary has fluctuated or changed, we will work on the average.”

All applicants must be able to secure a mortgage on their own, according to the CDA director, as the town will not offer financial assistance or financing options. In addition to mortgage payments, the town has estimated potential owners should account for paying $6,000 annually in real estate taxes and $460 in homeowner association fees, which will be billed twice a year.

Town officials will not host an open house, but interested purchasers may contact the developer, at 631-588-8818 to set up a tour of the property.

Those interested must fill out the forms available online at www.huntingtonny.gov/harborfieldsestates by Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. There is a non-refundable processing fee of $26.50 and only one application may be submitted per household.

Income Guidelines to Qualify

Household size     Maximum Income
1 person               $61,350
2 persons              $70,100
3 persons              $78,850
4 persons              $87,600
5 persons              $94,650
6 persons              $101,650

Jefferson said a live lottery will be held Sept. 5 in Room 114 of Town Hall at 5 p.m. There will be two drawings, according to the CDA director. The first will create a priority list for those who are a current resident or employed by a business located in the Town of Huntington, and non-residents who can show they have relatives living in the Town of Huntington. The second drawing will be for all other applicants.

The selected purchaser will not be required to live in the house for any specific length of time, according to Jefferson, as sometimes required with many down payment assistance programs. However, there is a restrictive covenant on the house that the owner must promise to contact the CDA upon putting the house up for resale in the future so as it will remain affordable in perpetuity.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity,” Jefferson said. “It’s not just another rental property, it’s something that they can list and invest in.”

Anyone with questions regarding the application guidelines should contact the Huntington Community Development Agency at 631-351-2884.

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