A majority of nextLI survey respondents said they do not...

A majority of nextLI survey respondents said they do not want to see the Island's housing shortage solved by adding more density. Credit: Newsday/John Keating

A large majority of Long Islanders want more housing options, including affordable and environmentally sustainable choices, while at the same time many say they don't favor "dense" housing, according to a new poll.

Experts said the results of the poll, conducted last year by nextLI/Newsday in collaboration with Hofstra University and Productions Plus Research, pointed to fundamental contradictions that posed a dilemma for Long Island officials.

"There's a bit of a disconnect," said Daniel Lloyd, founder of Minority Millennials, a nonprofit seeking to connect young people of color with access to jobs and civic engagement.

He said many people in the poll expressed the need to "maintain the fabric of Long Island. That's fine. But at the same time, we're reluctant to change or evolve to ensure there is enough housing. It's a dilemma on Long Island, and that's the reason we're not able to get to any solutions on Long Island to the housing crisis."

Amy Emmatty, chief research officer for Productions Plus, a Detroit-based agency that conducted the poll and collaborated with Hofstra on its analysis, said "There is universal recognition that there are not enough housing options on Long Island."

 "You've got seven in 10 [respondents] telling you not enough housing options is a problem," she added. "And a lot of that is driven by affordability."

The poll surveyed 2,910 residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties from Aug. 3 through Sept. 1.

It was an online survey in combination with what Emmatty called "intercept interviews" by "outreach teams" that went into communities "to capture more of the population on Long Island who would not readily be available online."

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

NextLI is a Newsday project that seeks to use research and data to engage the public on topics of concern to the region. The survey research was funded through the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge grant.

According to the poll, 70% of the respondents said housing options on the Island were a problem. Of those, 45% said they constituted a "big problem," with the remaining 25% calling them a "small problem." 

The poll noted "cognitive dissonance" on responses to the housing issue.

"Long Island residents have conflicting desires for housing options" on the Island, the poll said, with the differences explained by whether or not the respondent was a homeowner.

Among respondents, 68% said they wanted more affordable housing, 19% said what was currently available was fine and 13% wanted less. At the same time, 52% said they wanted fewer "dense housing options."

Still, a majority of respondents — 63% — supported more sustainably built and environmentally friendly housing options. And 44% supported more low-income housing, versus 27% who didn't.

A Hofstra analysis that linked responses to voting status and political affiliation said the "distinctions between affordable housing and low-income housing are significant. … Those who are not registered to vote are significantly more likely (64%) to support the development of low-income housing than those who are registered (43%). Democrats are more likely to support the creation of low-income housing (61%) than are Independents (39%) or Republicans (26%). Respondents who described themselves as very liberal support it (77%) at much higher rates than very conservative respondents (31%)."

And, the Hofstra analysis continued, "despite support for affordable and sustainably-built housing, only 20% of respondents favored adding denser housing to the region."

Gwen O'Shea, president and chief executive of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, a nonprofit housing agency based in Centereach, said "when people hear the word 'density' [they] jump to thinking about 300 units or 500 units."

But she noted Long Island "doesn't have a lot of areas where you can have a 25-story building" in any case.

O'Shea said there is high demand for an affordable housing complex like the 45-unit one her organization helped build, in conjunction with Conifer Realty, in Port Jefferson.

"We have a lottery [this] week for those units, and for 45 units we got 1,400 applications," she said.

O'Shea added that the rentals, mostly one-bedroom apartments, are for individuals earning from 30% to 95% of Long Island's median income, or those earning $30,540 at the low end up to $98,000 on the high end. 

"If you're saying you want more housing, I would imagine you recognize that housing needs to look different from the single-family" home, O'Shea said.

"There's a need for all of it," she said of varying housing options.

A poll respondent, Kathryn Llewellyn, 67, said she has lived on Long Island her entire life, but now finds it much too crowded.

"It's too congested for me: Traffic, cars, stores, hospitals, beaches. You name it," Llewellyn, of Northport, said in an interview this week. "I rarely leave my house on weekends. It's too much of a hassle. There's too many people around. The traffic is terrible. I don't want to go to the beach and have someone sitting three feet next to me."

Llewellyn said she has no plans to leave, since her adult daughter and elderly parents live here. But she rejects any additional housing that would drive up the Island's 2.9 million population.

Llewellyn said she was not a rich person, but someone who was "barely scraping by" on Social Security and small savings after retiring from a major airline. 

"No, I don't want more affordable housing. Let's work on [lowering] the taxes, not affordable housing," she said.

Steven Schopp, a 78-year old retired music teacher living in Westbury, another poll respondent, said he got an eye-opening experience when his son was looking for a house.

"One of the things I was surprised about when my son was looking for a house about six years ago [was that] an awful lot of the houses he looked at had apartments in them. He didn't buy one of those," Schopp said. But he learned "that's how people are coping, I guess," citing high property taxes. 

Schopp said he was concerned about what he termed Long Island's lack of progress. When he moved to the Island in 1967, he said there was a sense that the place was growing and moving. Today, he said, "I'm shocked that in the next 50 years nothing happened."

When housing is proposed or there's a redevelopment put forth for the area of Nassau Coliseum, he feels the ideas are immediately criticized.

"No matter what you come up with, there's always some small group against it, and that's discouraging," Schopp said. "To me, the major problem on Long Island is the lack of moving forward. … I see nothing happening here."

 "Politically, I see a lack of forward thought," he added. "Nobody can do much of anything big."

Lloyd, of Minority Millennials, offered a similar view. 

"I think we need bold leadership with the issue of housing," he said. "There's a lot of people that live here that are really happy with the status quo. Unfortunately, that type of complacency hurts society."

A large majority of Long Islanders want more housing options, including affordable and environmentally sustainable choices, while at the same time many say they don't favor "dense" housing, according to a new poll.

Experts said the results of the poll, conducted last year by nextLI/Newsday in collaboration with Hofstra University and Productions Plus Research, pointed to fundamental contradictions that posed a dilemma for Long Island officials.

"There's a bit of a disconnect," said Daniel Lloyd, founder of Minority Millennials, a nonprofit seeking to connect young people of color with access to jobs and civic engagement.

He said many people in the poll expressed the need to "maintain the fabric of Long Island. That's fine. But at the same time, we're reluctant to change or evolve to ensure there is enough housing. It's a dilemma on Long Island, and that's the reason we're not able to get to any solutions on Long Island to the housing crisis."

Amy Emmatty, chief research officer for Productions Plus, a Detroit-based agency that conducted the poll and collaborated with Hofstra on its analysis, said "There is universal recognition that there are not enough housing options on Long Island."

 "You've got seven in 10 [respondents] telling you not enough housing options is a problem," she added. "And a lot of that is driven by affordability."

'Cognitive dissonance' on housing issues

The poll surveyed 2,910 residents of Nassau and Suffolk counties from Aug. 3 through Sept. 1.

It was an online survey in combination with what Emmatty called "intercept interviews" by "outreach teams" that went into communities "to capture more of the population on Long Island who would not readily be available online."

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

NextLI is a Newsday project that seeks to use research and data to engage the public on topics of concern to the region. The survey research was funded through the Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge grant.

According to the poll, 70% of the respondents said housing options on the Island were a problem. Of those, 45% said they constituted a "big problem," with the remaining 25% calling them a "small problem." 

The poll noted "cognitive dissonance" on responses to the housing issue.

"Long Island residents have conflicting desires for housing options" on the Island, the poll said, with the differences explained by whether or not the respondent was a homeowner.

Among respondents, 68% said they wanted more affordable housing, 19% said what was currently available was fine and 13% wanted less. At the same time, 52% said they wanted fewer "dense housing options."

Still, a majority of respondents — 63% — supported more sustainably built and environmentally friendly housing options. And 44% supported more low-income housing, versus 27% who didn't.

High demand for affordable housing

A Hofstra analysis that linked responses to voting status and political affiliation said the "distinctions between affordable housing and low-income housing are significant. … Those who are not registered to vote are significantly more likely (64%) to support the development of low-income housing than those who are registered (43%). Democrats are more likely to support the creation of low-income housing (61%) than are Independents (39%) or Republicans (26%). Respondents who described themselves as very liberal support it (77%) at much higher rates than very conservative respondents (31%)."

And, the Hofstra analysis continued, "despite support for affordable and sustainably-built housing, only 20% of respondents favored adding denser housing to the region."

Gwen O'Shea, president and chief executive of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, a nonprofit housing agency based in Centereach, said "when people hear the word 'density' [they] jump to thinking about 300 units or 500 units."

But she noted Long Island "doesn't have a lot of areas where you can have a 25-story building" in any case.

O'Shea said there is high demand for an affordable housing complex like the 45-unit one her organization helped build, in conjunction with Conifer Realty, in Port Jefferson.

"We have a lottery [this] week for those units, and for 45 units we got 1,400 applications," she said.

O'Shea added that the rentals, mostly one-bedroom apartments, are for individuals earning from 30% to 95% of Long Island's median income, or those earning $30,540 at the low end up to $98,000 on the high end. 

"If you're saying you want more housing, I would imagine you recognize that housing needs to look different from the single-family" home, O'Shea said.

"There's a need for all of it," she said of varying housing options.

'Nobody can do much of anything big'

A poll respondent, Kathryn Llewellyn, 67, said she has lived on Long Island her entire life, but now finds it much too crowded.

"It's too congested for me: Traffic, cars, stores, hospitals, beaches. You name it," Llewellyn, of Northport, said in an interview this week. "I rarely leave my house on weekends. It's too much of a hassle. There's too many people around. The traffic is terrible. I don't want to go to the beach and have someone sitting three feet next to me."

Llewellyn said she has no plans to leave, since her adult daughter and elderly parents live here. But she rejects any additional housing that would drive up the Island's 2.9 million population.

Llewellyn said she was not a rich person, but someone who was "barely scraping by" on Social Security and small savings after retiring from a major airline. 

"No, I don't want more affordable housing. Let's work on [lowering] the taxes, not affordable housing," she said.

Steven Schopp, a 78-year old retired music teacher living in Westbury, another poll respondent, said he got an eye-opening experience when his son was looking for a house.

"One of the things I was surprised about when my son was looking for a house about six years ago [was that] an awful lot of the houses he looked at had apartments in them. He didn't buy one of those," Schopp said. But he learned "that's how people are coping, I guess," citing high property taxes. 

Schopp said he was concerned about what he termed Long Island's lack of progress. When he moved to the Island in 1967, he said there was a sense that the place was growing and moving. Today, he said, "I'm shocked that in the next 50 years nothing happened."

When housing is proposed or there's a redevelopment put forth for the area of Nassau Coliseum, he feels the ideas are immediately criticized.

"No matter what you come up with, there's always some small group against it, and that's discouraging," Schopp said. "To me, the major problem on Long Island is the lack of moving forward. … I see nothing happening here."

 "Politically, I see a lack of forward thought," he added. "Nobody can do much of anything big."

Lloyd, of Minority Millennials, offered a similar view. 

"I think we need bold leadership with the issue of housing," he said. "There's a lot of people that live here that are really happy with the status quo. Unfortunately, that type of complacency hurts society."

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