In preparation for its new Community Housing Fund that will funnel a .5 percent real estate transfer tax into affordable housing options, Southold Town is hosting five community meetings in June about its Community Housing Plan.
The housing plan, unveiled in late April of this year, outlines how the town plans to spend money in the Community Housing Fund. The majority of voters in four of the five East End towns (except Riverhead) said ‘yes’ to creating the housing funds in a November 2022 ballot referendum. Municipalities must have a plan in place before they begin to spend the Housing Fund money.
The plan can be viewed on the town’s website.
Southold’s plan calls for four different priorities to address the need for housing: Increasing the stock of year-round housing, maintaining existing housing, helping first-time homebuyers with down payments and providing education and counseling services.
If the plan is approved, the housing fund would be used to provide low interest loans for construction of community housing and accessory apartments, along with low-interest loans for first-time homebuyers and no-interest loans for first time homebuyers who are first responders.
It would also be used to provide maintenance grants to keep existing housing in good repair and make it more energy efficient, and to provide housing education and counseling services, which would be multilingual.
The plan recommends Southold create a Housing Department, which answers to the Town Board, and not a separate Housing Authority.
The Housing Department would establish the new programs, coordinate the volunteer committees working on housing, administer the town’s housing registry and oversee the application and selection process.
The Community Housing Plan is being drafted by consultants Nelson, Pope and Voorhis and the 10 members of the town’s Community Housing Advisory Board.
The hour-and-a-half long community information sessions will be held in different hamlets each week in June, beginning with the Southold Recreation Center (970 Peconic Lane, Peconic) on Wednesday, June 7 at 6 p.m. The second meeting, which will be conducted in Spanish, will be held at CAST (53930 Main Road, Southold) on Thursday, June 15 at 6 p.m.
The third meeting will be held at the Floyd Memorial Library (539 First Street, Greenport) on Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m., and the fourth meeting will be held at the Mattituck-Laurel Library (13900 Main Road, Mattituck) on Tuesday, June 27 at 5 p.m.
A Zoom session will be held with Fishers Island residents on Thursday, June 22 at 5 p.m.
Southold Councilwoman Jill Doherty, the town board’s liaison to the Community Housing Advisory Board, said at the board’s May 23 work session that she hopes the board will set a formal public hearing for its July 18 meeting, to be continued at a meeting in August.
Town Supervisor Scott Russell said the town needs to outline priorities for how the money will be spent, which he said the current draft of the plan does not do.