There is an urgent need for affordable housing – particularly rental housing – for young people in Huntington. This fall, a dozen members of the Young Professionals of the Huntington and Melville Chambers of Commerce participated in an extraordinary conversation about this housing shortage with leaders of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition. The Young Professionals already had heard the grim statistics about the “brain drain” of young people off Long Island because they cannot find housing. In fact, these young people are the faces behind the statistics. None of them was surprised that Huntington is one of the affluent towns on Long Island losing the largest number of its young people because rental housing and starter homes are just not attainable here.
The young people in the room ranged in age from 26 to 42. They were men and women, black, Hispanic and white, all with college degrees, all business professionals. They want to live and work in Huntington. Most cannot. One young person is renting in Mastic Beach with an almost two-hour round trip commute to her Huntington job. Others expressed real anger and frustration that, at almost 30 years of age, they are still living with their parents because they cannot find an affordable rental apartment. Some asked outright why the Town has allowed so many affordable senior homes to be built while creating very few housing opportunities for their generation. And, throughout the night, there was real sadness that some of them may have to leave a Town they love simply because they cannot find housing here.
Here is some of what the young professionals 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 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 are the ones they should be trying to keep in Huntington.”
• “After spending hundreds of thousands of tax dollars educating us in Huntington’s public schools, we move away because we can’t find housing in Huntington.”
Our conversation was not just a gripe session. By the end of the evening, our Coalition and the Young Professionals committed to work together educating and advocating for more affordable rental and ownership homes in Huntington. Each of the Young Professionals organizations pledged to create an Affordable Housing Committee and several members are taking directors’ seats on Huntington Township Housing Coalition.
Perhaps the most important point made that night was that the voice of young professionals must be heard by Town officials. Going forward, We are sure they will be heard.