Southold Town is hosting a forum on affordable housing next Wednesday, March 11 at 6 p.m. at the Peconic Lane Community Center, in the hope of raising public awareness about the need to provide a place for young people and workers to stay in the community.
Dan Sarnowski, Phillip Beltz and Beth Motschenbacher of the town’s Housing Advisory Commission gave an advance presentation on the forum at a recent town board work session.
Mr. Sarnowski said the forum is an attempt to dispell the myths, fears and misconceptions about affordable housing in the community, and to help people who are in need of affordable housing to learn the ropes of the town’s program.
Ms. Motschenbacher said the median price of a house in Southold Town is now $550,000, much more than many people who live here can afford.
Mr. Sarnowski said there are now 350 applicants waiting on the town’s affordable housing registry, and many of them are firefighters, EMTs, health care workers, teachers and other vital members of the community.
“They’re already here, you already know them,” he said. “You just might not know they’re on the list.”
“Southold’s biggest export is young people,” agreed Town Supervisor Scott Russell.
Mr. Russell also highlighted the need for affordable housing in Southold in his State of the Town address last week.
He said he believes the town needs to have a robust discussion about affordable housing, in light of the recent withdrawal of a proposal for a large affordable cottage complex on Route 25 in Mattituck.
“If there’s opposition to affordable housing, let it be for the right reasons,” he said. “Thie time for discussion on this is every day of the week.”
“Seventy-five apartment units on a property in Southold Town in one hamlet is probably too many apartments to absorb at one time,” he said. “But I do think we need to understand that concept was an excellent concept in Southold Town. Affordable apartments are going to solve the problem. For many of the people on the affordable housing registry, home ownership is a long way away.”