City Council Majority Supports Cutchogue Affordable Housing Proposal

So far, most members of Southold Town Council support the advancement of the Cutchogue Woods affordable housing project.

Supervisor Scott Russell was the lone dissenter, expressing concerns that locals would be barred from apartments in the lottery selection. The City Council plans to continue preliminary discussions with developers at future meetings.

Longtime Southold resident Rona Smith, who purchased land for the project, formed Housing Initiatives LLC and partnered with affordable housing developer Georgica Green Ventures to build 24 townhouse-style apartments on the plot of Highway 48, Cutchogue. GGV has developed several affordable housing complexes in the East End and across Long Island, including Riverhead and Southampton.

Ms Smith, who has been involved in local government and housing for more than 20 years, presented her proposal to the city council during a working session on Tuesday with representatives from GGV. She noted that the current proposal is conceptual and is seeking input from City Council.

She clarified that the units will be for rent only, not rent to buy. “It was my original idea. I wanted to have a rent-to-own. The problem is, the more I explored it, the more I realized there was no funding for it,” she said.

Ms Smith also acknowledged that the proposed development is not located in a Hamlet Locus, or HALO, area and pointed out that most jobs on the North Fork require some sort of transportation, making walking less necessary.

“The plot seemed particularly good to me because it’s not going to confuse people about their neighborhood, the value of their home,” she said, although “there are certainly studies that show that affordable housing does not affect the resale value of housing”.

She highlighted a commitment to sustainable housing. The developers plan to use prefabricated units to avoid clearing as many trees as possible.

The project proposal describes income criteria as “project affordability levels between 60 and 100% of median area income”. Ms Smith clarified at the meeting that the project will use the Nassau-Suffolk AMI, which is superior to the Southold Town AMI.

Mr Russell argued that a 60 per cent threshold would disqualify a large number of ‘out of the gate’ Southold residents and pointed out that the regional lottery to select residents of the apartment complex could not be limited to applicants local. Since the project would depend in part on outside funding, the developers must comply with regulations on resident qualifications. He said few residents were selected for the Vineyard View affordable housing complex.

“I think there are some differences. Obviously you can’t build a wall to keep people out,” Ms. Smith said, pointing out that the Vineyard View developer had also set a lower AMI qualification. “In my discussions with David [Gallo of GGV] about their experience in East Hampton and Southampton is that they attracted about 75% local residents who live in their developments and were basically held to the same laws, the same standards.

GGV’s Allison Giosa clarified that the developers will establish different tiers within the AMI lineup to ensure that “we have different tiers that bring different professions and different people into the building.” The project is subject to availability and funding requirements, she said.

“A typical deal like this might bring between five and seven funding sources to the table, all with different requirements,” she said. “Obviously it’s a juggling act that we’re going to do on our side of the table in coordination with you as well.”

She added that 86% of an initial lease of a 37-unit complex in the town of East Hampton was local. “We’re seeing very strong local rental, especially in the East End of Long Island,” she said.

Ms Smith added that while she understands the concerns over local rental, it is impossible to know in advance how the lottery will play out.

“I think having Georgica put that number on paper is not the same as saying that’s what they expect. That’s what they achieved, not what they expect, and my personal belief is that that’s partly the strength of marketing west of those areas,” she said. “There’s a certain amount of awareness that needs to happen in terms of marketing, but I think maybe, Conifer [Realty] hit a little too hard.

Mr Russell said the city needed apartments to keep residents and clarified he was not suggesting keeping people outdoors.

“It’s very hard for me to say to this community of residents who are dying for affordable housing that we’re sorry, we’re going to build this, but we can’t really guarantee that you’ll get any part of it, or any of it. whoever you know will benefit,” he said.

Council member Sarah Nappa argued that if the development is not built at all, then there is no chance for Southold residents to secure a place.

“We have to look at affordable housing in the city as a whole and we’re trying to find different projects where we can do different things, and not every affordable housing project will be able to have a local listing,” she said. noted.

Some will have local listings, and the city is looking at some of those, she said, but the city needs to find ways to give “people here a chance to stay because, guess what, they’re going to leave if they don’t.” there is no chance. .”

Ms. Smith asks what the other options are. “How do you solve this problem? Don’t you build it?

Mr. Russell suggested focusing on self-funded developments.

Ms. Nappa argued that the city should work with several types of affordable housing developments. She pointed out that although Vineyard View was not initially rented to local residents, the people who live there now work in Southold, where there is a chronic labor shortage.

“You can’t punish one company for another company’s mistakes,” City Council member Jill Doherty added.

City council member Greg Doroski said ignoring other types of projects leaves opportunities “on the table.”

“I agree with you that self-funding is best, but self-funding is not the only option. And we have a real need in this community, and there is an affordable housing crisis,” a- he said “The number one concern of the business community here, number one in all sectors, is the workforce. There is no place for people to live in this community.” We cannot let the perfect get in the way of the good.

Ms Smith replied that many self-funded developments aim to make a profit on affordable rentals. The best way for developers to make money is to build “smaller rooms, less equipment [and] lower finishing standards,” she said.

“It seeks to do our best with the sources of funding that we can identify. That’s it. This is no way to get rich,” she added.

Mr. Russell replied that no one gets rich from affordable housing.

GGV developer David Gallo said the goal was to sell most units to applicants with 60% AMI, with the rest allocated to higher earners, to facilitate a mixed-income project. He said the project may adjust a unit or two, but not significantly change the target numbers.

Traditionally, GGV has emphasized local marketing to ensure the community is aware of the project, he said.

Ms Smith suggested self-funded developments in the city could perhaps focus on higher income brackets, to circumvent the problem “so that we serve as many income levels in the city as possible”.

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