Elected leaders and community advocates met Friday for an affordable...

Elected leaders and community advocates met Friday for an affordable housing forum after East End voters approved related referendums last year.

Credit: Tom Lambui

East End voters delivered a message in November by voting in a new tax that they’re willing to pay to address the growing affordable housing problem.

On Friday, government leaders and community advocates came together at a forum in Sag Harbor to discuss the challenge of how to best spend money generated in the newly created Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Fund. 

The fund will collect money through a 0.5% tax on most real estate transactions. Money from the fund could be used in numerous ways, including by providing financial assistance to first-time homebuyers, building new affordable housing units and rehabbing existing structures for conversion to community housing, officials said.

Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor), the key architect behind the bill that created the fund, organized Friday’s forum at the Sag Harbor Cinema. He noted it took 21 years to get the measure passed, but said the hard work was still ahead.

“Passing the bill is easy, implementing the bill is hard,” Thiele said. “We wanted to get everybody together who’s involved with this to start talking about implementation.”

Attendees included the town supervisors from Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island, Southold's deputy supervisor, state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) — who helped get the bill passed — and Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack).

They talked about topics that included accessory dwelling units, zoning codes, the transfer of development rights and how federal housing laws need to be factored in.

Thiele also mentioned Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal this week of a plan to add 800,000 housing units across New York in the next decade.

The assemblyman also emphasized that it's critical for town officials continue to engage the public in the process.

In East Hampton and Southold, voters approved the referendums by a wide margin. It was tighter vote in Southampton and on Shelter Island — where a mere 15 votes separated the measure from failing.

Shelter Island housing advocate Elizabeth Hanley, who got a death threat amid her lobbying efforts for the local referendum, will lead the island's Community Housing Fund advisory board, officials said Friday.

The towns of Southampton, Southold and East Hampton still are finalizing the rosters of their boards, which will help steer the local efforts to create affordable housing. Between seven and 15 town residents can serve on each board.

Shelter Island Supervisor Gerry Siller said housing is one of two key issues, along with water quality, that the town board is committed to addressing.

“We’re trying to keep a community that we’re losing,” he said.

Thiele also said Friday it's important for the towns not to become too ambitious at first and to focus on taking small steps so one bad project doesn't threaten the entire program.

“The first project wouldn’t be a 200-unit high rise in downtown Hampton Bays,” Thiele quipped.

The new fund resembles the current Community Preservation Fund that adds a 2% real estate tax to fund open space preservation in the East End towns — a program officials have praised widely as a success.

East End voters delivered a message in November by voting in a new tax that they’re willing to pay to address the growing affordable housing problem.

On Friday, government leaders and community advocates came together at a forum in Sag Harbor to discuss the challenge of how to best spend money generated in the newly created Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Fund. 

The fund will collect money through a 0.5% tax on most real estate transactions. Money from the fund could be used in numerous ways, including by providing financial assistance to first-time homebuyers, building new affordable housing units and rehabbing existing structures for conversion to community housing, officials said.

Assemb. Fred W. Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor), the key architect behind the bill that created the fund, organized Friday’s forum at the Sag Harbor Cinema. He noted it took 21 years to get the measure passed, but said the hard work was still ahead.

“Passing the bill is easy, implementing the bill is hard,” Thiele said. “We wanted to get everybody together who’s involved with this to start talking about implementation.”

Attendees included the town supervisors from Southampton, East Hampton and Shelter Island, Southold's deputy supervisor, state Sen. Anthony Palumbo (R-New Suffolk) — who helped get the bill passed — and Suffolk County Legis. Bridget Fleming (D-Noyack).

They talked about topics that included accessory dwelling units, zoning codes, the transfer of development rights and how federal housing laws need to be factored in.

Thiele also mentioned Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal this week of a plan to add 800,000 housing units across New York in the next decade.

The assemblyman also emphasized that it's critical for town officials continue to engage the public in the process.

In East Hampton and Southold, voters approved the referendums by a wide margin. It was tighter vote in Southampton and on Shelter Island — where a mere 15 votes separated the measure from failing.

Shelter Island housing advocate Elizabeth Hanley, who got a death threat amid her lobbying efforts for the local referendum, will lead the island's Community Housing Fund advisory board, officials said Friday.

The towns of Southampton, Southold and East Hampton still are finalizing the rosters of their boards, which will help steer the local efforts to create affordable housing. Between seven and 15 town residents can serve on each board.

Shelter Island Supervisor Gerry Siller said housing is one of two key issues, along with water quality, that the town board is committed to addressing.

“We’re trying to keep a community that we’re losing,” he said.

Thiele also said Friday it's important for the towns not to become too ambitious at first and to focus on taking small steps so one bad project doesn't threaten the entire program.

“The first project wouldn’t be a 200-unit high rise in downtown Hampton Bays,” Thiele quipped.

The new fund resembles the current Community Preservation Fund that adds a 2% real estate tax to fund open space preservation in the East End towns — a program officials have praised widely as a success.

Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Fund At A Glance

  • The fund will generate money through a 0.5% tax on most real estate transactions
  • Money from the fund could be for financial assistance to first-time homebuyers, building new units and rehabbing existing structures for conversion

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