Hardy Plumbing
April 26, 2006

Affordable Housing For Riverhead?

Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale asked community development agency director Andrea Lohneiss to prepare requests for proposals that could pave the way for some long-awaited affordable housing in town.

Lohneiss went before the town board at a recent work session to discuss the terms of several request for proposals for an affordable housing project.

The project involves nine sites garnered by the town from the county. The land was given to the town with a promise to create "next-generation" affordable housing, said Lohneiss.

That's welcome news for some residents who have been waiting on town lists and renting in Riverhead for over 16 years.

The key, said Lohneiss, is that the town does not fund construction; builders fund the projects themselves. After the houses are complete and purchased by qualified applicants, they will pay the builders themselves for the cost of construction.

Individuals who receive the affordable housing must live or work in Riverhead, with a median of not more than 80% of the area median income of Suffolk County.

In addition, said Lohneiss, prices of homes would go up consistently based on the median income in the area, not inflation.

The board spent a good deal of time discussing terms of the RFP. 

"In the past, the board would keep homes affordable for a specified period of time," said Cardinale, which has traditionally been 10 years. Discussed was the possibility of extending that time period. Lohneiss said the board would decide in the next 30 days, if 10 years was a long-enough time period.

"I want to make sure we have affordable units 10 or 20 years from now," said Cardinale.

One questioned bandied was how to ensure that affordable houses remain affordable. Should a buyer decide to sell within 10 years, said Cardinale, the home would have to be sold to someone "similarly situated" in regard to income when the home was purchased.

If a home owner decided to sell to someone not in that similar income range, said the supervisor, they should "not be able to pocket the difference between the controlled price and market value."

Councilman John Dunleavy agreed: "We want to make sure nobody makes a killing."

Cardinale said the board is working out the details of the RFPs, which will be sent out to interested developers and builders.

One example of such an affordable housing project closed last week on Horton Avenue in Riverhead.

"We've had an affordable housing program for many years," said Cardinale, noting that the town two years ago completed a project in Millbrook with 17 homes.

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