- In an attempt to learn how one Town on the East End of Long Island was addressing the housing needs of its community, I met with Phillip Beltz
, Special Projects Coordinator for the Town of Southold located on the North Fork, a position which Phillip has held since 2004.
I asked Phillip to provide some statistics regarding the population of Southold, which includes hamlets from the eastern half of Laurel to Orient Point as well as Fisher's Island and the Incorporated Village of Greenport.
"We have a year-round population of approximately 22,000 people," said Phillip, "of which about 40 percent are over age 55."
Phillip Beltz, Special Projects Coordinator for the Town of Southold. (Courtesy Photo: Phillip Betz)
What housing is available to accommodate residents in that age group, I asked?
"Well the private sector includes 20 units in Colonial Village which is converting from rental to cooperative, 98 condominium units in Founder's Village, and 300 assisted living units at Peconic Landing."
What about providing housing opportunities for people who live and work in the Town, Philip?
"In 2007, a collaborative effort of State and local government led to the creation of "The Cottages" in Mattituck. It provided 22 single-family workforce housing units to first-time homebuyers who met the criteria. The homes ranged in price from $175,900 to $218,400. In order to keep them affordable, the profit on the sales of these homes are tied to the Consumer Price Index. When the program was announced, we had 460 applicants for the 22 homes.
Another program that we have established is for homeowners who have an accessory structure, such as a barn or a garage, if they meet Town code requirements they may be able to convert them to accessory apartments for either a family member or rented qualified individuals who are listed on the Town's affordable housing registry. Also, an owner who is looking to "down-size" may move into another homeowner's accessory structure and rent their home to a renter who meets our affordable housing criteria.
We also "partner" with the North Fork Housing alliance with respect to those who qualify for participation in the HUD Section 8 Program. "
Phillip, the Towns on the South Fork may exempt qualified first-time buyers from having to pay the two percent Community Preservation Fund (CPF) Transfer Tax on a purchase of a home. Has Southold considered adopting that policy?
"When you consider that the transfer tax in Southold exempts the first $75,000 of the purchase price on unimproved property, and the First $150,000 of improved, the benefit to the buyer would be too little to justify the loss of revenue to the Town for preservation, which is a quality of life issue for our community.
Another effort that we are making is the preservation of our existing housing stock by providing funds for home improvements which must be approved by the Town's Housing Advisory Commission. "
I assume, Phillip, by home improvements you mean capital improvements? "Yes, that is what I mean." So not only do they improve the quality of the home, but they also add to its value with certain possible tax benefits upon the sale of the property, as well as benefiting the surrounding homes in the neighborhood.
"Yes. That is also correct."
You mentioned to me, "inclusionary zoning," Phillip. What do you mean by that?
"The Town of Southold's Subdivision Code requires the creation of affordable housing for every new standard residential subdivision of five or more lots."
What is meant by the "HomeShare Program Long Island," Phillip?
"That is a Suffolk County program that tries to match adults 18 or older who are in search of affordable housing with homeowners 60 or older who may have an extra bedroom and require assistance with chores in exchange for low or no rental charges. Our office works very closely with Karen McLaughlin who heads up the Senior Citizen Center in Mattituck.
Many people who live and work on the North Fork wouldn't be able to without some form of assistance. In addition to housing opportunities as such, we also provide counseling for those who are making efforts to avoid foreclosure on their properties, eviction from their homes, and other related issues."
Thank you Phillip, for so generously taking the time to participate in this interview.
John will be teaching a 22.5 hours Real Estate Continuing Education class at Long Island University in Riverhead on July 18, July 20, and July 22. For information and registration contact Rosemary Malone at 631-287-8334 or by email at email@example.com.