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Babylon, like many Long Island towns, faces acute shortage of affordable housing

The town hall of Babylon is shown on

The town hall of Babylon is shown on Aug. 7, 2003. Credit: Newsday / Daniel Goodrich

The Town of Babylon faces an acute affordable housing shortage that is unlikely to be solved in the next five years, according to a draft report by a town consultant.

That prediction comes despite town strategies to combat the shortage and about $6 million in federal funds officials anticipate spending on a variety of projects, including construction, demolition and rehabilitation of buildings, community improvements and direct resident aid.

"The amounts we receive don't nearly match the need that is out there," said Susan George, director of the town's Department of Community Development.

The shortage plays out in the number of town residents who can't afford the homes they are in, the report found. Marietta, Georgia-based WFN Consulting, reported that 33,587 households -- almost half of all those in the town -- are cost-burdened, meaning residents spend at least 30 percent of their income on housing.

That total includes more than half of all residents who rent and more than a quarter of those who own their homes, according to the firm.

Two of the most troubled areas for affordable housing are North Amityville and Wyandanch, where 90 percent and almost 64 percent of residents, respectively, are cost-burdened, according to the firm.

The report, known as a consolidated plan, is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It includes planning and development priorities for the town through 2019.

A final version will be submitted to HUD in November, with the department's response expected in the spring.

A predominance of single-family housing stock and a lack of available open land in Babylon -- conditions common across much of Long Island -- are partly to blame for the town's predicament, developers and housing experts said.

"You can't [immediately] correct something that occurred over a long period of time," said Joseph Sanseverino, assistant vice president of Long Island Housing Partnership, which administers some town housing programs. "It's going to be very difficult to reverse that."

Using federal grant money over the next five years, the town plans to rehabilitate 10 houses, build seven rental units and six houses for ownership, and offer down payment assistance to 45 new homeowners.

Other strategies include trading density bonuses for affordable housing in new developments and expanding the town's stock of rental housing through the permit process for accessory apartments.

"Even though home ownership has gotten somewhat more affordable, it's still out of range of most people," said Jim Morgo, an affordable housing developer and former Suffolk chief deputy county executive.

Nonetheless, "we're providing more affordable housing in many more ways than towns surrounding us," said Ann Marie Jones, Babylon's planning and development commissioner.


The Town of Babylon promotes affordable housing or income-restricted components in new developments it approves. An example of that approach is the 177-unit Wyandanch Village, which is part of the Wyandanch Rising project. In the village, 121 units have been designated as affordable housing, with one-bedroom apartment rents ranging from $985 for a person earning $29,000 up to $1,525 for a person earning $45,000.

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