Take A Breath: Next Steps for Community Housing
by Bryony Freij and Mike Daly of East End YIMBY
Congratulations to the residents of Shelter Island, Southold, East Hampton, and Southampton for Voting YES on Community Housing on November 8, 2022! And THANK YOU for being a part of this historic vote. Your time, energy, donations, and advocacy all came together to make this a reality. Now the real work begins…
The formation of the Community Housing Fund in our towns provides a wonderful opportunity to change the model of affordable community housing that we have struggled with for years. Now, Local Funds will be generated for Local Housing for Local People.
We all have great expectations and are aware that there is a great need for available and dependable year-round housing in our community. Implementation in each township will be guided by each town’s housing plans. It’s reasonable to expect a significant demand for community housing funds from many directions, however, we must be realistic in recognizing that a housing crisis that has developed over the years will likely take years to fix. Together, we’ll need to stay with it to see it through!
Courage, commitment, and coordination between town boards and stakeholders, such as the business community, citizens advisory committees, civic organizations, school districts, environmental groups, healthcare providers, the arts and cultural community, fishers, farmers, and volunteer first responders will be important.
It’s not just money, but gradual and clear adjustments to our restrictive zoning codes that will be critical to allow for “as of right” creation (elimination of politicized “special exception permits”) of affordable community housing that is needed.
Less restrictive accessory apartment codes, smaller homes and smaller lots in business districts, and allowing multi-family homes to be built (see missingmiddlehousing.com), all with affordable guidelines, while protecting our environment and rural seaside character are necessary to tackle this crisis.
Development, unrelated to the Community Housing Fund, will need to continue as the towns raise Community Housing Funds, form robust housing plans, make needed zoning changes and build an effective response.
Unless something changes, it appears that the towns will start collecting the .5 percent on transactions that go into contract starting in April 2023. Most transactions take 60 to 90 days to close and be recorded by Suffolk County, so expectations are that funds won’t start accumulating significantly before July 2023.
Community Housing Fund Advisory Committees
The CHF Legislation passed by the New York State Assembly and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Hochul and approved by the voters in the East End towns, calls for the formation of a Community Housing Fund Advisory Board in each town.
According to the law, The Advisory Board, appointed by the Town Board, will review and make recommendations regarding the town’s community housing plan. The board would consist of not less than seven nor more than fifteen legal residents of the town. No member of the Town Board may serve on the Advisory Board.
The board must include at least one representative from each of three industries: construction, real estate and banking, and three representatives of local housing advocacy or human services organizations.
Where a village or villages, located within the town, have elected to participate in the fund, the board will include at least one resident of a participating village or villages. Where an Indian nation is located within the boundaries of a town, the board shall include at least one member from such nation.
East End YIMBY believes it would be in the best interests of the towns to appoint socially, economically, and culturally diverse Advisory Boards, with an emphasis on full-time year-round residents, both homeowners and renters.
If you are interested in serving on your Town Community Housing Fund Advisory Board, please contact one of your town council members or the following:
Shelter Island: Contact Elizabeth Hanley, Chair, Community Housing Board (email@example.com)
Southold: Send a resume to Denis Noncarrow, Town Clerk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
East Hampton: Contact Tom Ruhle, Director of Housing (TRuhle@EHamptonNY.gov)
Southampton: The application for the Southampton Town CHFAC can be found here: www.southamptontownny.gov/910/Peconic-Bay-Community-Housing-Fund
For further assistance, contact: Kara Bak, Director of Housing and Community Development (email@example.com)
East End YIMBY Next Steps
Our plan, at East End YIMBY is to continue moving forward as an education and advocacy group for the East End, curating best practices from communities successfully making progress with their community housing initiatives.
East End YIMBY will be formalized as a not-for-profit organization and establish a clear mission and vision, and form a board, and grow our programs.
If you’re interested in serving on a board for an organization like East End YIMBY, please contact either Byrony or Michael, or send an email telling us what drives you to want to serve at firstname.lastname@example.org
Staying informed, and on top of issues, legislation, proposals, etc in such a large area is challenging. We intend to form Chapters in Western Southampton Town, Eastern Southampton Town, East Hampton Town, and Southold Town to enable more focused advocacy and email communication for members who wish to have localized focus and impact. Additional chapters or groups can be formed in areas like Sag Harbor, Montauk, and Greenport as needed). We hope that you will be interested in becoming a coordinator or leader of one of these chapters.
East End YIMBY will continue to curate and share research, best practices, and educational zoominars. We will hold in-person meetings and rallies, and will continue to attend town and village board meetings to support community housing on the East End. Yes, this is all volunteer.
If you’re interested in leading the communications in one of the above mentioned areas, or have a specific area that you would like to define and lead, please reach out to Bryony or Michael or send an email to email@example.com
Our good friends and neighbors at Shelter For All on Shelter Island have things covered there! If you are on Shelter Island, or want to provide support, please reach out and engage with them at www.shelterforall.net/get-involved.
We’re looking forward to it all!
Happy New Year!
Bryony Freij and Mike Daly