East Hampton Town is on a roll with its plans for affordable housing, taking a mult-pronged approach to enable the people who make a community function to continue to live here.

The feather in their cap this month is the opening of application submissions for “The Green at Gardiner’s Point,” a 50-unit rental complex with most units priced to be affordable for people making about 60 percent of the area median income — a much-needed socioeconomic demographic. 

East Hampton’s awareness of the need to keep people in this income bracket here is an astute one, and it’s one that we’re hoping to see elected leaders in other East End towns take to heart.

Rental housing complexes have become anathema on the North Fork, with every proposal met by neighbors who are worried such complexes will lead to the degradation of their communities. The rollout of the much-maligned Vineyard Views rental complex in Greenport several years back seems at the moment to have put a permanent damper on the ability of North Forkers to accept another rental housing complex.

The Green at Gardiner’s Point was built by Georgica Green Ventures, one of the most reputable affordable housing developers on Long Island. 

Working with North Fork housing advocate Rona Smith, Georgica Green has also attempted to find a place for smaller housing complexes on the North Fork, but has found little public support.

But the need is certainly there, as a recent analysis of Southold Town’s community housing registry by the town’s government liaison officer, Gwynn Schroeder, shows quite clearly. While Southold has been focusing the efforts of its Community Housing Fund on providing assistance to homebuyers, most of the people who have told the town they need housing cannot afford to carry a mortgage given the high price of houses here, even if they were to receive down payment assistance.

East Hampton’s Community Housing Fund’s pilot projects this year include down payment assistance, but only for prospective buyers of housing that is already in the town’s affordable housing program. This limitation, said East Hampton Town Housing Director Eric Schantz this April, is due to the astronomical cost to buy even the smallest market-rate house in East Hampton, putting it well out of the reach of people with modest salaries. 

Southold would be well-suited to learn from East Hampton’s example, on many counts.

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