Carpenters frame a roof on a home under construction in Nesconset.

Carpenters frame a roof on a home under construction in Nesconset. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

Long Island’s housing growth rate was among the slowest in the United States from 2012 to 2022, according to a new report.

The number of housing units, including houses and apartments, in Suffolk County increased 2% during that 11-year period, while the number of units in Nassau increased 2.7%.

That placed Nassau 131st and Suffolk 132nd among 141 U.S. counties with 500,000 people or more, according to the analysis by Construction Coverage, which publishes research for builders and the real estate industry. The report used data on housing units from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

During the period, Suffolk added 11,238 units and Nassau added 12,423.

Restrictive zoning, environmental constraints and opposition from community members are among the obstacles to building, said Mike LaFirenza, CEO of San Diego-based Construction Coverage.

The counties where housing grew the fastest during the period were Williamson, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties in Texas. Parts of Utah, Idaho and North Carolina also ranked in the top 10.

Among large counties, Wayne County in Michigan, which includes Detroit, lost housing, with fewer housing units in 2022 than in 2012. In addition to Nassau and Suffolk, the counties that include Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis ranked near the bottom in housing growth.

“It’s a lot more difficult to add to a community that’s existed for a century or more and try to add new housing units when many residents have been there for decades,” LaFirenza said.

Long Island housing advocates and real estate experts have cited a lack of new construction as contributing to rising rents and home prices.

During the period the report covers, the median sale price among all residential properties increased 81% in Suffolk to $543,000 and 71% in Nassau to $650,000, according to OneKey MLS data.

Since then, prices have continued to climb, and the number of homes on the market hit a 40-year low in late 2023.

The data were unsurprising to Kyle Strober, executive director of Association for a Better Long Island, an economic development advocacy group made up of real estate developers.

“We’ve known for some time that Long Island, while we’ve made some progress in building multifamily housing, dramatically lags in diverse housing options compared to our neighboring regions,” Strober said.

Strober questioned comparisons to other parts of the country, where there is much more vacant land available than on Long Island, particularly in Nassau County. 

He pointed to Mineola, Farmingdale and Patchogue as areas that have added housing to attract young people.

“Long Island is evolving and adapting to what the next generation of residents are looking for,” such as mixed-use properties and bustling downtowns, he said.

Slow housing growth in the suburbs led Gov. Kathy Hochul to propose last year the creation of a state board that could override local zoning decisions in areas with little housing growth. Many Long Island lawmakers opposed that plan and instead Hochul has pursued an incentive-based approach for communities that approve housing.

Long Island’s paltry home construction numbers hurt the region’s economy, said Hunter Gross, vice president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, which has backed proposals for more building.

“I look at this as such a failure on an economic level.” Gross said. “You certainly can’t grow an economy without building the housing that people are demanding.”

Gross said potential solutions for Long Island could include more towns permitting accessory dwelling units, new housing around train stations and conversions of office space to housing. The Town of Huntington is considering a proposal to create a walkable, mixed-used development in a commercial corridor in Melville.

“You can’t build only single-family homes on Long Island anymore,” Gross said.

Long Island’s housing growth rate was among the slowest in the United States from 2012 to 2022, according to a new report.

The number of housing units, including houses and apartments, in Suffolk County increased 2% during that 11-year period, while the number of units in Nassau increased 2.7%.

That placed Nassau 131st and Suffolk 132nd among 141 U.S. counties with 500,000 people or more, according to the analysis by Construction Coverage, which publishes research for builders and the real estate industry. The report used data on housing units from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

During the period, Suffolk added 11,238 units and Nassau added 12,423.

Restrictive zoning, environmental constraints and opposition from community members are among the obstacles to building, said Mike LaFirenza, CEO of San Diego-based Construction Coverage.

The counties where housing grew the fastest during the period were Williamson, Fort Bend and Montgomery counties in Texas. Parts of Utah, Idaho and North Carolina also ranked in the top 10.

Among large counties, Wayne County in Michigan, which includes Detroit, lost housing, with fewer housing units in 2022 than in 2012. In addition to Nassau and Suffolk, the counties that include Cleveland, Milwaukee and St. Louis ranked near the bottom in housing growth.

“It’s a lot more difficult to add to a community that’s existed for a century or more and try to add new housing units when many residents have been there for decades,” LaFirenza said.

Long Island housing advocates and real estate experts have cited a lack of new construction as contributing to rising rents and home prices.

During the period the report covers, the median sale price among all residential properties increased 81% in Suffolk to $543,000 and 71% in Nassau to $650,000, according to OneKey MLS data.

Since then, prices have continued to climb, and the number of homes on the market hit a 40-year low in late 2023.

The data were unsurprising to Kyle Strober, executive director of Association for a Better Long Island, an economic development advocacy group made up of real estate developers.

“We’ve known for some time that Long Island, while we’ve made some progress in building multifamily housing, dramatically lags in diverse housing options compared to our neighboring regions,” Strober said.

Strober questioned comparisons to other parts of the country, where there is much more vacant land available than on Long Island, particularly in Nassau County. 

He pointed to Mineola, Farmingdale and Patchogue as areas that have added housing to attract young people.

“Long Island is evolving and adapting to what the next generation of residents are looking for,” such as mixed-use properties and bustling downtowns, he said.

Slow housing growth in the suburbs led Gov. Kathy Hochul to propose last year the creation of a state board that could override local zoning decisions in areas with little housing growth. Many Long Island lawmakers opposed that plan and instead Hochul has pursued an incentive-based approach for communities that approve housing.

Long Island’s paltry home construction numbers hurt the region’s economy, said Hunter Gross, vice president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition, which has backed proposals for more building.

“I look at this as such a failure on an economic level.” Gross said. “You certainly can’t grow an economy without building the housing that people are demanding.”

Gross said potential solutions for Long Island could include more towns permitting accessory dwelling units, new housing around train stations and conversions of office space to housing. The Town of Huntington is considering a proposal to create a walkable, mixed-used development in a commercial corridor in Melville.

“You can’t build only single-family homes on Long Island anymore,” Gross said.

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