Let The People Decide - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1798939

Let The People Decide

Your editorial urges Governor Andrew Cuomo to pass legislation that would allow the creation of the Community Housing Fund, a new 0.5 percent tax to use for affordable housing measures [“Take Up The Pen,” July 15]. It would be added to the current Community Preservation Fund, which is funded by a 2 percent real estate transfer tax.

But do we really need another tax? Since its enactment in 1999, the CPF has raised nearly $1.7 billion. In the last two and a half years alone, the fund has pulled in over $168,500,000. Since the availability of affordable housing is essential to preserving a community that has been priced out of touch for many of our essential workers and younger residents, why not use a portion of these funds for affordable housing initiatives?

The editorial argues that the CPF “could not, under any legal circumstances, be repurposed to build houses.” However, the fund, which was created through a referendum, was amended by referendum again in 2016 to allow up to 20 percent to be used for water quality issues annually. Why not have a referendum on an amendment to allow a small portion to be used for affordable housing? Let the people decide.

It seems disingenuous to argue on one hand that a fund created to stop development can’t be used to build affordable housing, while simultaneously complaining that we need to develop affordable housing.

The advantage of assigning a portion of CPF for affordable housing is that the money could be available immediately, whereas the proposed new tax would take years to generate sufficient funds to begin addressing what is clearly an immediate need.

Jeffrey Close


Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. replied: “The proposal is actually a tax reduction, not a tax increase, for nearly half of real estate closings on the South Fork, because of a proposed 60 percent increase in the affordable housing exemption for all sales of $2 million or less. Further, existing CPF funds are still required to meet the demands for future land preservation and water quality protection, as well as to pay debt service for prior projects. Finally, just as was the case for land preservation, the towns can bond at current low interest rates to fund several hundreds of million dollars for affordable housing on day one. There is no need to wait” — Ed.