The Right Way
Thank you, Southampton Press, for the “Press Sessions,” with a focus on affordable housing [“Second Southampton Press Sessions Event Focuses On Affordable Housing Crisis,” 27east.com, October 8].
As pointed out in Greg Wehner’s article, it is impossible to examine affordable housing without discussing the fears associated with it, typically articulated by expressions of “NIMBYism” (“Not in My Back Yard”). Rooted in concerns about declines in property values, crime, density and rising taxes, these fears have been carefully addressed not only in Southampton Town, with projects like Speonk Commons, but throughout the tri-state area and the country.
In 2013, Health and Human Services contracted with three researchers to evaluate the success or failure of the Ethel Lawrence Housing project in suburban Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Their research (“Do Affordable Housing Projects Harm Suburban Communities?”) indicated the following:
“Our findings suggest that affordable housing can indeed be developed in an affluent suburban community without increasing social disorganization or producing negative externalities in terms of crime, property values, or taxes. Our analyses of trends in Mount Laurel and surrounding communities revealed no significant differences in crime rates, property values, or tax burdens before or after the opening of Ethel Lawrence.”
The researchers went on to explain that key elements of success include a well-thought-out concept, thorough planning and outreach to all stakeholders. Important features included, but were not limited to, “architectural consistency with surrounding neighborhoods, careful attention to aesthetics, close cooperation between managers and residents, and collaboration with municipal officials.”
Like so many other things in life, it’s about doing it the right way. Georgica Green Ventures was right to go to Supervisor Jay Schneiderman with a good housing concept. Mr. Schneiderman was right to sit down with community leader Craig Catalanotto to discuss the project. Mr. Catalanotto was right to bring along community stakeholders by assuring them of the factors mentioned above.
In the end, Mr. Catalanotto was able to say, “These are our neighbors — they are part of the community.”
Mr. Anthony is a former chair of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee — Ed.
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