To the Editor,
This is in response to letters from Tom Kopka and Katy Casey, employees of the EH Town Housing Department. I will respond to the third letter writer, Tom Ruhle, in a separate letter next week.
I recently wrote a letter regarding my vehement opposition to the scatter-site affordable housing projects. Please read carefully, instead of jumping at the chance to villainize me for my very reasonable and widely shared view, so widely shared, that of the four houses bordering the atrocity being built next to my home, two homes were sold immediately after finding an affordable house was planned.
Here are my objections:
It is ludicrous that a handful of homes, approximately a dozen, after years of hugely expensive effort, are awarded by lottery, to a lucky few, at one quarter of their value, in a town where thousands cannot afford to buy homes, including virtually every child who reaches adulthood, every member of our community who rents or commutes to work here, including countless Latinos. It doesn't take a math degree to see that without exaggeration, we are talking thousands! So, this program is the equivalent of pissing in the wind, at very great expense, to the taxpayers — with virtually no effect on the problem.
In addition, it places houses in neighborhoods occupied solely by home and land owners, lowering the values of nearby properties. This expense is unfairly shouldered by the unlucky few who have one of these AH projects land in their backyard, myself included.
Renters do not invest in improvements the way an owner does. They simply do not have the same financial motivation as people who will realize the gains of those investments without restriction.
Tom Kopka, I think you are a snake. At our first meeting, you asked me the manipulative, rigged and slimy question, "Don't you want firemen and teachers to have homes?" When I objected, you apologized, saying you understood how outrageous I felt your question was. But then, you wrote a letter clearly in response to mine. You were too cowardly to use my name, relying instead on innuendo, as you bemoaned the "money grubbing pestilence that has crept into East Hampton, brought here by those of us, unlike you, who weren't born here." Well, my husband was born here, and his mother before him, and we earn our keep the hard way — we aren't paid by taxpayers to push pencils and mouth empty rhetoric so you can continue to pick up a check each week. And since when are teachers, with their six figure salaries, guaranteed lifetime jobs, benefits, family healthcare and 180-day work years in need of financial assistance?
Katy Casey, you made my point exactly when you said, "This program provides housing, not investments." Katy, wake up. For virtually every member of the middle class, a home is equal parts housing and investment. In fact, it is overwhelmingly the only significant investment a middle class family ever has. Your job must be very satisfying, surrounded with lottery applicants to this expensive, ineffective, hare-brained program, who look at you adoringly, thinking, correctly, that you hold the keys to the kingdom of heaven. But it is the taxpayers who pay your salary. So, come down from the clouds, most homeowners who have the misfortune of an affordable house next door know they can kiss a portion of the value of their homes goodbye, despite all your weasel wording denying this. In addition, it is an outrage, a blatant conflict of interest and sheer corruption when the town chooses the right to award 50% of these homes to their own employees. End of story.
July 18, 2006