September 26, 2012

Hampton Bays Property Eyed For Housing

"There's no such thing as affordable housing on Long Island," said Rick Wertheim from United Way Long Island Youthbuild. "There's 'attainable' housing and that's what we need to look for."

Last Thursday, the Southampton Town Board met with Wertheim and representatives from the town's Housing Authority to discuss the 72-h designated property at 42 Neptune Avenue in Hampton Bays, a potential property for affordable housing.

The Housing Authority and Youthbuild have been working together to give housing and employment to the young adults participating in the program.

Youthbuild Long Island is a free program that serves low-income young adults ages 18 to 24.

"This program provides an opportunity for our kids to move up," said Richard Blowes, Executive Director of the Authority. "They have to begin somewhere."

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst added young adults working in the program would be able to be employed and then could get housing.

Thursday's work session found the parties involved unable to decide whether to make the property a rental or a homeownership.

"I think there's a concern amongst the people in Hampton Bays as well as Flanders and Riverside because the properties tend to be worth less than properties further east," Throne-Holst said.

Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera mentioned how Code Enforcement (which she serves as a liaison to) had many cases this year for overcrowding, maintenance, and more with several properties accommodating rentals.

"Unfortunately we've been dealing with a lot of unscrupulous landlords, and Hampton Bays definitely has its share," she said.

Blowes assured that if the property was turned into a rental home, there would no Code Enforcement issues or problems with anything owned by the housing authority.

Councilwoman Bridget Fleming said, "The reaction, from the people I've spoken to, is it should be a home ownership and not a rental."

Funding still needs to be secured from the Housing Authority through the county for the property. If funding is not in place from the Authority, the property will move to and be developed by another agency into affordable housing.

"This is a big opportunity to get support," Blowes said. "We're dealing with a lot of problems, and I know these other agencies don't care. Unless there is a clear, illegal violation, they don't care about someone's quality of life."

Wertheim described how Youthbuild and the Housing Authority are working together on programs that are "all next generation projects."

Bonnie Cannon, a member of the Board of Directors for Southampton Housing Authority, opined the property should be a homeowner home, agreeing with the majority of the town board.

"As an agency, we see a need for rentals," Blowes said, adding how a decision could be made, but not without support from the town board.

"I'm confident the Housing Authority and Youthbuild can do this and secure the funding," said Councilman Chris Nuzzi.

Throne-Holst said the town board would meet again with the Housing Authority representatives on October 4. She said she was hopeful more research on funding would be attained for discussion.

"We can do ownership, we can do rentals," Cannon said. "You just have to give us some sort of direction."


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