Long Island millennial groups call for Hochul to revive accessory housing plan
A coalition of millennial Long Islanders say their struggle finding affordable housing was overlooked when Gov. Kathy Hochul removed a proposal from her budget that would have allowed more accessory apartments around the state. The proposal had faced fierce resistance from local lawmakers.
Accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, as they are known, are secondary living spaces on the same lot as a single-family home. They can be in garages, attics, basements or detached cottages and serve as a source of income for homeowners while boosting affordable housing options for young people.
With rising rents and home prices, finding ways to increase the supply of housing is critical to enable young people to continue living and working on the Island, speakers representing several groups, including local manufacturers, said Wednesday afternoon during a news conference outside the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building in Mineola.
"The groups here today support the revitalization of the ADU legislation," said Dan Lloyd, 35, of North Amityville, the founder and president of Minority Millennials, a nonprofit based in that community.
He said he appreciated the governor's boldness in introducing the ADU legislation but doesn't want her to give up the fight.
"We want to encourage her to continue to support this legislation and ensure that, not only do public officials push this, but they bring millennials to the table so we can be the conduit to solutions moving forward."
Hochul introduced the proposal in January to require local governments to allow more ADUs in their jurisdictions. Lawmakers around the state objected to the way the proposal would have interfered with local officials’ ability to control zoning in their communities.
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), who is opposing Hochul for the Democratic nomination for governor, and Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman spoke out against the risk of overcrowding in single-family home neighborhoods if more ADUs are created. Resources such as parking and sewers would be strained by greater density, they said.
Blakeman said during a news conference last month he wouldn’t let the governor "destroy suburbia nor turn Nassau County into the sixth borough of New York City."
Lloyd disagreed with the characterization of the ADU proposal as an attack on suburbia. He said his group does not want to see that happen either.
'We love suburbia'
"It was kind of frustrating," he said. "We love suburbia. This is where I want to live and raise my family. In my mind, it’s kind of like: Who are you representing when you say that when the next generation of suburban residents are saying 'this is part of the solution?'"
Lloyd, his wife and his daughter previously lived in an illegal accessory dwelling unit in an extension of a single-family house when they were struggling to afford an apartment.
Hochul told Newsday in February that she hoped to revisit proposals to boost housing development in collaboration with local elected officials. Lloyd said the coalition plans to reach out to the governor’s office and Long Island lawmakers to voice their support for ADUs. He noted the group’s support for home rule, the ability of municipalities to set their own rules to protect quality of life in their communities.
Other speakers at the event Wednesday noted the importance of boosting the housing supply to retaining local talent and helping employers fill roles.
"We have a serious skilled labor issue across all manufacturing, and it can’t be understated," said Patrick Boyle, executive director of Ignite Long Island, a consortium of area manufacturers. "Long Islanders are leaving, they’re not coming back, and they need a place to stay … We need to keep the jobs here on our Island to keep the families here."
Hunter Gross, 26, executive director of the Huntington Housing Coalition, noted that the Town of Huntington has a process for permitting ADUs that could be expanded in other areas of the Island. He believes ADUs could help provide an important source of income to mitigate the cost of homeownership.
"We pay the highest property taxes here in the country. We have great schools, but we’re losing our investment in young people if we’re just letting them leave and not supplying them housing," Gross said.
Creating zoning rules that allow for more ADUs will help Long Islanders find an affordable place to live, said Kiana Abbady, a 28-year-old from Freeport who works as a program manager at New American Leaders, a nonprofit dedicated to helping immigrants and the children of immigrants to run for office.
"There are too many of us who are doing well — master’s degrees. PhDs, doctorates. We went to college. We did what was expected. We still don’t have our white picket fences. We still don’t have our own properties." Abbady said. "While we try to compromise and say we will share space with our families, allow us to build on top of what is already there … Too often when we compromise and try to meet NIMBYism in the middle, NIMBYism wins."