There were smiles of joy and some tears of disappointment, and dreams were simultaneously fulfilled and dashed in Hampton Bays last week when the Southampton Town Housing Authority held just the second lottery in recent memory—and only its third since 1993—for the sale of soon-to-be built subsidized homes.
When her son Robert’s name was the first drawn out of the brass tumbling cylinder on Thursday evening, September 13, Diane Carpenter leapt up in joy and rushed to hug the 30-something-year-old, who blushed but smiled with obvious relief.
“We have a newborn and things are tight, so owning a house is not something we could have ever hoped for if not for this,” said Tony White, a Riverhead native whose name also was among the first drawn in the lottery.
“We would have had to move off the island to buy something, probably,” his wife, Rebecca, added. “Or we’d be stuck renting. Houses go for $200,000 or more, at least, in our neighborhood in Flanders.”
The Whites and Mr. Carpenter, along with nine other people whose names were drawn first during last week’s housing lottery held at the town senior center, will get first crack at buying 11 three-bedroom houses that the Housing Authority plans to hire a contractor to build on land given to them by Suffolk County. The lots were seized for nonpayment of taxes and given to the town for affordable housing development.
With land costs out of the equation, a $40,000 grant for each house from the New York State Housing and Urban Renewal Program, and a bargain rate for constructing the 11 homes through a single contractor—the Mattituck building firm Manzi Homes—the cost of the homes to their new owners will be just $152,000 each.
Two of the properties are in Noyac, two are in East Quogue, and the other seven are in either Flanders or Riverside. Each entrant was asked to prioritize where they would like to live, and the lots will be assigned according to the order in which the names were drawn.
Last week’s lottery marks just the third time that subsidized houses have been offered for sale in Southampton Town, and the first since the town dissolved its Housing Department two years ago and handed over the process of developing affordable housing to the semi-independent Housing Authority. The first housing lottery occurred in 1993, when some 30 single-family homes were built in The Pines development in East Quogue, with assistance from the Long Island Housing Partnership. The more recent one was held in 2005 and featured eight town-subsidized homes in Bridgehampton.
In contrast, neighboring East Hampton Town has created and sold more than 200 single-family homes within its borders over the last 30 years.
But on Thursday night, the future was all anyone was thinking about. As Town Housing Authority Chairwoman Bonnie Cannon read through the first 11 names drawn from the tumbling bin, each of those who were in attendance, which was most, bounced up and skipped to the front to shake hands with the officials in attendance. With just 11 houses available, the glee was tempered somewhat by the understanding that in order to get a shot at one of the houses, one of the others drawn earlier would have to fail to complete the purchase. As the number of names drawn approached 20, then 25 and 30, some of those who had not heard their name yet hung their heads, dejected. Some wept.
A total of 55 names were entered in the lottery, and all were drawn. The names of the 40 current Southampton Town residents or employees of businesses in the town were given priority in the drawing. Several of the 15 people whose names were in the second round of drawings were in attendance, despite knowing they stood little chance of having an opportunity to purchase one of the houses.
“To the first 20, 25 people—good luck,” Ms. Cannon said. “To the others, good luck to you, too, and we’ll be doing this again soon.”
The town has already accepted the donation of five more properties in Flanders and Riverside, and Southampton Town Board members have already ordered the Housing Authority to begin the process of developing them as affordable housing instead of renting them, as the organization had been considering.
For those who will get the first shot at buying the houses, they must still qualify for a mortgage, aided in the application process by the Long Island Housing Partnership. The monthly mortgage payment for the houses will be about $1,300, including property taxes. In order to be eligible for the lottery, applicants had to show they earned no more than $77,400 per year for a family three or $86,000 for a family of four. They also had to be first-time home buyers.