Flawed Proposal - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1793495

Flawed Proposal

Glaring questions remain about the Southampton Full Gospel Church “affordable housing” proposal (60 units on 9 acres on County Road 39), which zoomed full speed ahead, prodded by Jay Schneiderman and promoted by Concern for Independent Living (operating out of the Bronx, Riverhead and Port Jefferson, among other locations). This imported, inappropriate and ill-conceived housing project is being characterized as “workforce housing,” “affordable housing” and “veterans housing,” and usually is discussed in the anecdotal context of locals and their grown children not being able to afford to live in Southampton.

Is the general public fully aware that Concern for Independent Living is funded by state and federal money; therefore, the housing is open to anyone, and everyone. By law, it cannot be biased in favor of local occupancy. In fact, a cursory look through the file shows that many charitable groups from many different places already have submitted lists of “clients” waiting to assume immediate residency. Veterans make up a small percentage. And what might “independent” portend?

In light of these immediate, local concerns, sweeping legislation just passed in New Jersey should raise red flags here. It prohibits landlords asking criminal conviction questions on rental applications. Also, landlords can no longer run criminal background checks until after they’ve conditionally approved a potential renter. Automatic denials of formerly incarcerated people are no longer allowed.

Landlords may ask whether a prospective tenant is “registered for life as a sex offender, or whether they’ve been convicted of manufacturing meth in federal housing,” but otherwise they can’t run a background check until after making a conditional offer of rental. Convictions for crimes like murder or aggravated sexual assault can be grounds for denial. (Whew! That’s a relief.)

Also under this law, landlords have only a limited time to withdraw their approvals for renters convicted of crimes. Landlords who break the law can be fined up to $10,000, and rejected renters can file complaints with the New Jersey attorney general.

That is the law in New Jersey today. Can we expect it in New York State tomorrow? And if something comparable is proposed by the New York State Legislature, would Fred Thiele mindlessly sign on without reading it, or fully comprehending its consequences for the East End, as he did the tenants’ reform bill, created to alleviate abuses in New York City, which has caused chaos with seasonal rentals, and confusion, anger and misery for so many of his constituents?

Many questions need to be raised at a public hearing to air the Full Gospel proposal. First and foremost, though, ask yourself this question: What, if any, “need” this flawed proposal (and others like it) in Southampton? Inquiring taxpayers want to know.

Frances Genovese