Long Way To Go - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1932867

Long Way To Go

I read with interest the proposal of a tax to generate revenue via an affordable housing referendum [“Southampton Town Takes First Step Along Housing Fund Path,” 27east.com, April 19]. My initial reaction is one of skepticism. It is not early in the game — the proponents of this tax have a mere six months to put together a proposal that makes sense before the November elections.

My first reaction was to the comments by the assistant town attorney that the funds generated by this tax could be used to “acquire property to be used for sale or rent, build housing for sale or rent, enter into private public partnerships to provide housing opportunities, and create housing for local businesses.”

All of this might sound good, but let’s look closely — and my concern is the word “rent.” Should these public funds be used to provide rentals?

The town has taken an aggressive approach already with the creation of housing in Speonk and Southampton, and there are other proposals out there in Quiogue and Westhampton Beach. And who would the landlords be? The town housing authority, private individuals, housing advocates — just who?

Let’s also look at the “advisory” board that would be established. Let’s look at the make-up: one construction industry member, one real estate member, one banking industry member, and three from housing advocacy or human resources organizations.

Talk about a stacked deck. How about some ordinary taxpaying residents who do not have an affiliation to an industry that will benefit from this proposal?

This proposal, as now outlined, is essentially a blank check to the construction industry and other interests under the guise of “affordable” housing. No one doubts the need for affordable housing, but is this housing for those already here on the East End, or is this for people who are not currently here and will create more stress on an infrastructure that already is strained?

There are affordable housing projects out there and, contrary to Jay Scheiderman’s opinion, there are plenty of properties in Southampton Town for less than $1 million, considerably less.

Let’s see how this proposal evolves. I would say the proponents have a long way to go in placing a coherent plan in front of the voters.

Forest Markowitz