Housing Coalition Supports Accessory Apartment Law

The following comments were submitted today to Huntington Town Hall:
May 20,2019
Dear Supervisor Lupinacci and Members of the Town Board,

The Huntington Township Housing Coalition strongly supports the proposed changes to the accessory dwelling unit law outlined in Resolution 2019-243.

Accessory dwelling units (ADU’s) are the market-based solution that are the fastest, cheapest, least intrusive way to create affordable housing. The Town should be making every effort to increase their creation.

House-based apartments currently have an average median rent 25% below similar-sized apartments in buildings, making them more affordable than even the affordable set-asides in new buildings. Their rents are often more stable over time; if the owner likes the tenant living in the same house, they tend to raise rents less often than a profit-making building would. They are the least intrusive because unlike a new apartment building, legal ADU’s cannot rise above 10% of the dwellings in a neighborhood, ensuring they do not concentrate in any one school district. Neighbors often don’t even know where the ADU’s are on their street. And because the footprint of the house usually doesn’t change when creating an ADU, the process at town hall is faster than that for creating new apartment buildings.

The current law as written discriminates against owners of smaller houses with smaller frontages, which is why it is important to change the frontage minimum from 75’ to 50’. Often the owners of the smaller houses are those most in need of the additional income. Because there are no changes to the 10% cap, nor to the requirement to having parking for the owner and tenant off the street, lowering the minimum frontage will not result in more cars parked on the street, nor a flood of apartments into a particular neighborhood.

Nor will the changes in the law result in a greater strain on our water systems or roads. When the CDA holds a lottery for affordable housing, over 80% of the people who apply already live and work in the town of Huntington. There people are already here. They are living in illegal apartments with no rights and potentially unsafe conditions, or in their parents’ basements below ground. Making the ADU law for flexible will not bring a rush of outsiders into the town, but will allow our citizens already living here to move into the light and on record in safer, legal apartments.

ADU’s help relieve a number of important issues, but the current requirement that the homeowner live in the larger side of the home hampers the flexibility. Removing this restriction allows younger citizens to buy homes and live in the smaller part and rent out the bigger part, switching to the larger part as their family grows. It would allow older residents to age in place, using the income to help pay their ever-growing taxes. Even if they rent out the larger part of the home, the impact is no greater than when the older citizens had their children living with them. Homes with ADU’s are in such demand they currently sell for $50,000 more than equivalent homes without ADU’s as those young first-time homeowners need the extra income to make the mortgage and the taxes.

Making the law more flexible will also help relieve the pressure to build more, larger apartment buildings. Statistics we’ve often quoted show how great the demand for apartments is; allowing ADU’s into a wider range of homes will help create supply without building large buildings.
Please pass the resolution to reduce the minimum frontage and allow homeowners to live in either side of the home.
Roger Weaving Jr
President, HTHC

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