On Tuesday, October 6th, over our Coalition’s objections, the Town Board adopted arbitrary and vague restrictions on two-family homes that will require applicants wishing to either convert a one-family to a two-family or construct a new two-family home. Among these restrictions, which far exceed those required of applicants who want to create an accessory apartment or a non-owner occupied rental, are:
- Having to show a “severe hardship” in order for the application to be granted;
- Constructing the two-family home so that it “appears” to be a one-family home, without any definition as to what a one-family home should “appear” to be;
- Owning the home for at least five years.
The Town Code now virtually excludes two-family homes from being created, which is why over the past several decades, only .08 such homes have been approved per year. These restrictions are but another wedge causing young people to leave Huntington because they cannot afford to find a home here.
Two-family homes provide another important housing option that could expand the stock of desperately-needed affordable housing in Huntington. How desperate is this need? Just last week, on the evening of September 29th, HTHC leaders met for two hours with a dozen Young Professionals from the Huntington and Melville Chambers of Commerce to discuss their housing needs. All are college graduates, employed in Huntington and very anxious to live in our beautiful town. But they cannot because we simply do not have rental or ownership housing that they can access. They are angry and frustrated. Here is some of what they told us:
•”I love Huntington and really want to both live and work here. But I can’t find a place to live in this Town.”
•”I found an affordable rental apartment in Mastic Beach, but I now have to commute almost two hours round-trip to my Huntington job I’d give anything to find an affordable rental in this town.”
•”I set my 30th birthday as the benchmark for moving out of my parents’ home. But that birthday came and went and I am still living with them because I cannot find an affordable rental.”
•”I am a college graduate earning $40,000 a year which is not enough to afford a Huntington rental but too much to qualify for affordable rental housing.”
•”Why does the town keep building affordable homes for senior citizens and nothing for our generation? We are the ones being forced to leave.”
• “We know the statistics about the brain drain. We are the actual faces behind the large numbers of young people moving out of Huntington due to the lack of housing.”
It was on their behalf that HTHC opposes the restrictions placed on two-family homes. We hope to meet with Councilwoman Tracey Edwards, sponsor the the resolution, to discuss mitigating some of the Code’s more onerous restrictions.
Wednesday, September 16th, HTHC Steering Committee member Roger Weaving spoke at a Huntington Town Board public hearing in opposition to Resolution 2015-392 that would place even more onerous restrictions on the conversion to or creation of two-family homes in R5 districts. Two-family homes, while rare in Huntington, are yet another housing mode which can add to the stock of much-needed affordable homes in the Town, thereby helping to stem the flow of young people out of Huntington. The current law requires that a single- family home converted into a two-family home be at least five years old and that the applicant for the conversion show “hardship” if the request is not granted. The proposed amendments would require that an applicant show “severe hardship” before a two-family home can be either converted or constructed. Both the original law and the proposed amendments are filled with arbitrary and vague language, such as a requirement in 2015-392 that the two-family home “appear” like a single-family home, with no language in the legislation that describes what a single-family home should “appear” to be. HTHC is therefore opposing 2015-392 and has called on the Town Board to revisit the original restrictions on two-family homes. You can read the HTHC letter to the Town Board here: HTHC two family homes FINAL letter
A September 6th, 2015 New York Times editorial titled, “The Architecture of Segregation,” observed that, almost 50 years after the federal Fair Housing Act was enacted, “minorities find themselves trapped in high poverty neighborhoods without decent housing, schools or jobs, and with few avenues of escape” because, in part, “federally subsidized housing for low-income citizens … is disproportionately built in poor areas….” This pattern of confining low-income residents to communities with significant minority populations – like Huntington Station – while denying them a chance to live in ” high opportunity” communities – like Dix Hills – has been encouraged by programs such as New York State’s administration of the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits program. According to ERASE Racism, “families living in ‘affordable housing’ subsidized by Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) are excluded from opportunity and have to accept failing schools, high concentrations of poverty and racial segregation. This is because New York State’s scoring system that is used to determine which projects will be funded, places scant emphasis on projects that are located in high-opportunity neighborhoods.” To counter this policy, HTHC supports ERASE Racism’s petition calling on New York State to grant LIHTC subsidies for affordable housing in high opportunity neighborhoods. Please sign the petition at: http://www.eraseracismny.org/get-involved/sign-a-petition
The Huntington Township hosing Coalition will host a meet and greet for the Huntington and Melville Chambers of Commerce “Young Professionals” on Tuesday, September 29th, 7:00-9:00 PM at Quetzalcoatl Restaurant, 296 Main Street. The event is titled: “Huntington’s Rental Housing Shortage: Your Experiences … Possible Solutions.” The program will engage young professionals in a conversation around the difficulties they are having obtaining affordable rental housing in Huntington as well as what can be done to increase the stock of this housing. Appetizers and sangria will be provided. There is no charge. Please RSVP by September 25th to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is the flier with details: YHTHC young professionals flyer