East Hampton town officials heard an earful from local residents during a recent series of public hearings about the area’s worsening affordable housing crisis.
The East Hampton Town Board hearings were held this month to discuss an affordable housing overlay zoning designation and a town code change to allow more affordable housing in overlay districts, the East Hampton Star reported. Residents at the meetings expressed dismay over the minimal affordable housing available in the area.
Some residents discussed how the crisis has affected children as families are forced to repeatedly relocate from the towns they grew up in. Others commented on the difficulty of finding staff, who can’t afford places to live near where the jobs are.
“They’re our greatest resource and we’re losing them,” said a social worker of the young adults leaving town for cheaper pastures, according to the Star. These are potential teachers, police officers and volunteer firefighters, the speaker said.
A Sag Harbor real estate agent described the “gut-wrenching” experience of getting a letter from a client desperate to find an affordable place to live.
“We are fortunate to have a good business and have these homes to sell, but this is the part of my business that keeps me up at night,” Michael Daly said during the virtual meeting, according to the Star.
Officials in East Hampton have vowed to increase affordable housing in the town.
Earlier this year, they announced an “All Hands on Housing” program, an initiative set to launch affordable housing developments locally. Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc previously said the town has the highest cost of living on Long Island and highest poverty rate in Suffolk County, making its 600-plus affordable housing units insufficient.
One of the hearings centered on a Route 114 project that includes the previous home of the Triune Baptist Church. The town purchased the adjoining parcels for about $1.8 million, a step toward a potential zoning overlay to allow for more affordable housing development on the land.
[The East Hampton Star] — Holden Walter-Warner