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Hamptons see exodus of Black residents while attracting more whites, Hispanics, census says

Brenda Simmons, a lifelong Southampton Village resident, said

Brenda Simmons, a lifelong Southampton Village resident, said she has noticed the demographic change and that unlike her, her two daughters will not be able to afford to live in the town because of the price of housing. Credit: Morgan Campbell

The Hamptons’ Black population declined between 2010 and 2020 as traditionally Black enclaves became more Hispanic and the South Fork’s white population grew as a whole, according to the 2020 census.

The East End was the only part of Long Island where the white population grew significantly between 2010 and 2020, an increase related in part to the influx of New York City residents moving out east during the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said. The hamlets that saw the most growth were the town’s most expensive ZIP codes, such as Bridgehampton and Sagaponack.

Southampton Town’s population expanded from 56,790 in 2010 to 69,036 in 2020, according to the census. But Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said the figure likely undercounts the true pandemic explosion. Some people may have already filled out the census before relocating to the East End or may still consider New York City their primary residence, he said. Advocates nationwide have expressed fear of a Latino undercount as well.

The town gained 4,948 white residents, 5,883 Hispanic residents and 567 Asian residents, but 483 Blacks moved away, according to the data.

"I happen to enjoy cultural diversity and celebrating, so this is not a negative change," Schneiderman said of the census numbers. "But the fact there are more people here, that is something that affects the town [and its services] substantially."

Flanders, a diverse hamlet in the western end of the town, grew from 4,472 to 5,098. It lost 176 Black residents and 313 white residents while gaining 1,087 Hispanics.

Schneiderman, who bought a home in Southampton Village in 2010 because he said it was relatively affordable, said his neighborhood was once predominantly Black homeowners but now estimates it to be about 50% as residents look to cash out in the booming market. The village gained 1,031 white residents and 289 Hispanic people, but lost 61 Black residents, according to the census.

Brenda Simmons, 66, a lifelong Southampton Village resident and executive director of the Southampton African American Museum, said she has noticed the demographic change.

Simmons’ parents migrated from the South in the 1950s and settled in "The Hill" section to work in what were then potato fields, she said. In recent years investors and second-home owners have picked up the modest homes in her neighborhood, sometimes renting them and other times knocking them down and building larger structures, she said.

Rising real estate prices and a declining Black population mean the next generation does not have the homeownership opportunities of someone Simmons’ age. She said she purchased her four-bedroom home in 1976 for $28,990 and, after refinancing, made her final mortgage payment last month.

Zillow now estimates her home is worth nearly 25 times what she paid for it, something she said she never imagined as a single mother raising two daughters.

"A lot of these homes, the children left and went to college," Simmons said. "Then the parents got older [and sold their homes] and they never could come back. That’s why even my children, they can’t come back here."

With Matt Clark

CRUNCHING NUMBERS IN SOUTHAMPTON

Total town population 2010: 56,790

Total town population 2020: 69,036

White increase: 4,948 (12%)

Hispanic increase: 5,883 (52%)

Black decrease: -483 (-17.4%)

Asian increase: 567 (91.7%)

Source: Newsday census data

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