The lack of affordable housing in Southampton Town is hitting close to home for Supervisor Jay Schneiderman.
On Friday, he posted on Facebook that he is looking for an apartment—one that is “affordable”—for a friend and her 3-year-old daughter.
And, thus far, he has not had much luck.
“She has a good job,” he said. “I have a lot of friends on Facebook, so I put it out there. So far it doesn’t look really good.”
The supervisor said he posted his online plea after being contacted by the woman, whom he declined to identify, and she shared that she is desperate to find affordable housing in the Hamptons. Noting that he has more than 3,400 Facebook friends, Mr. Schneiderman said he figured he’d ask around if anyone knew of any affordable apartments between Hampton Bays and Montauk.
As of late Friday afternoon, he said he’s received a few responses but that all were seeking higher rent prices than he had hoped for; one person wanted $2,600 a month for a three-bedroom apartment—above his friend’s price range.
“Your first knee-jerk reaction is to laugh—but it’s not funny,” Curtis Highsmith, executive director of the Southampton Housing Authority, said about the supervisor’s post. “There’s a huge shortage of affordable housing in the town. The issue is so serious that it’s not comical.”
Mr. Schneiderman is working on an initiative that would encourage homeowners, especially those who live east of the Shinnecock Canal, to offer accessory apartments as part of a greater effort to provide affordable housing in areas that mostly lack them. Currently, the law prohibits houses built on three-quarters of an acre or less from having accessory housing, like apartments. Qualified participants would be exempt from the law—if the Town Board ultimately approves the idea—so long as their homes sit on at least one-third of an acre.
The lack of affordable housing in the municipality is an issue that Mr. Highsmith, and members of the working class, are all too familiar.
“I think this entire town needs to start realizing they are the face of who we’re trying to represent,” Mr. Highsmith said. “‘Affordable housing’ has this negative connotation. It becomes a bad word—it’s not. It’s real people who need housing.
“They’re the face—I’m the face,” he continued. “My son—he’s the face. It really bothers me to see so many of my friends left because they just couldn’t afford it here. That’s resources leaving. That’s history leaving.”... more