Town of East Hampton Housing Director Eric Schantz told local...

Town of East Hampton Housing Director Eric Schantz told local legislators it's anticipated one of the town's two new affordable housing initiatives will "have a wide range in terms of scale and type." Credit: John Roca

The application process for two new affordable housing initiatives in East Hampton Town opened last week,  including a down payment assistance pilot program that will offer qualified homeowners $30,000.

The rollout of both programs follows voter approval in 2022 of the creation of the East Hampton Community Housing Fund, which generates money through a .5% tax on most real estate transactions.

Town officials said the new programs are a significant step toward addressing the affordable housing crisis on the East End. Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez added in a statement that “creating more affordable housing options is essential for our residents,” including young people, working families and seniors.

As of May 1, the housing fund had generated $4.7 million, according to town officials. 

Besides the pilot program, the town has opened an application process for requesting funding, including through a grant or loan, for community housing projects — while noting that proposals that “provide for repayment” are preferred.

The town will accept applications from individuals, developers, nonprofits or municipalities such as local villages. 

Eric Schantz, the town's housing director, told the East Hampton legislators in April it's anticipated those applications will “have a wide range in terms of scale and type.”

The type of projects the town could pick for funding vary, from helping pay for the purchase of new land for housing, the purchase of an existing home, maintenance on an existing home or rental unit or helping fund the construction of new homes or rental units, East Hampton officials said.

This year, the town will accept applications until Aug. 2 for that initiative.

The town's Community Housing Advisory Board will evaluate and score each application and submit recommendations to the town board, which can approve or turn down an application after a public hearing. That process will end around November or December, according to town officials.

Applicants seeking down payment assistance can apply through Dec. 31 and funding will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, according to town officials. They said the loans have no interest or fees and must be paid back if the property is sold.

Income restrictions follow limits the State of New York Mortgage Agency sets. As of May, the income limit for getting such assistance would be $184,680 for up to two people and $216,460 for a household with more than three people.

The current cap on a home purchase price for someone getting such assistance is about $1.6 million.

Mike Daly, founder of the pro-housing group East End YIMBY, said in an interview while he believes the programs are “terrific,” challenges still remain.

A couple at the income cap of $184,680, based on current interest rates, could afford a home loan of about $600,000, according to Daly. But he said few, if any, homes exist in that price range in East Hampton.

“The market doesn’t make this program very favorable right now,” Daly said. “But we’re hoping to see more inventory, and lower-cost inventory where more people are going to be able to do it.”

East Hampton officials said they’ll reevaluate the down payment assistance program after this year.

After voters approved a 2022 referendum, the town adopted a Community Housing Fund project plan in early 2023 that outlined permitted uses for the new tax money.

Members of an advisory board formed in March 2023 began reviewing more specific uses and the town began collecting money into the fund in April 2023.

Southampton, Shelter Island and Southold also created housing funds and established advisory boards to help map out affordable housing programs.

The housing funds are mirrored after the Community Preservation Funds the five East Ends towns have that for the past 25 years have used a 2% real estate tax to pay primarily for the preservation of open space.

The application process for two new affordable housing initiatives in East Hampton Town opened last week,  including a down payment assistance pilot program that will offer qualified homeowners $30,000.

The rollout of both programs follows voter approval in 2022 of the creation of the East Hampton Community Housing Fund, which generates money through a .5% tax on most real estate transactions.

Town officials said the new programs are a significant step toward addressing the affordable housing crisis on the East End. Supervisor Kathee Burke-Gonzalez added in a statement that “creating more affordable housing options is essential for our residents,” including young people, working families and seniors.

As of May 1, the housing fund had generated $4.7 million, according to town officials. 

Besides the pilot program, the town has opened an application process for requesting funding, including through a grant or loan, for community housing projects — while noting that proposals that “provide for repayment” are preferred.

The town will accept applications from individuals, developers, nonprofits or municipalities such as local villages. 

Eric Schantz, the town's housing director, told the East Hampton legislators in April it's anticipated those applications will “have a wide range in terms of scale and type.”

The type of projects the town could pick for funding vary, from helping pay for the purchase of new land for housing, the purchase of an existing home, maintenance on an existing home or rental unit or helping fund the construction of new homes or rental units, East Hampton officials said.

This year, the town will accept applications until Aug. 2 for that initiative.

The town's Community Housing Advisory Board will evaluate and score each application and submit recommendations to the town board, which can approve or turn down an application after a public hearing. That process will end around November or December, according to town officials.

Applicants seeking down payment assistance can apply through Dec. 31 and funding will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, according to town officials. They said the loans have no interest or fees and must be paid back if the property is sold.

Income restrictions follow limits the State of New York Mortgage Agency sets. As of May, the income limit for getting such assistance would be $184,680 for up to two people and $216,460 for a household with more than three people.

The current cap on a home purchase price for someone getting such assistance is about $1.6 million.

Mike Daly, founder of the pro-housing group East End YIMBY, said in an interview while he believes the programs are “terrific,” challenges still remain.

A couple at the income cap of $184,680, based on current interest rates, could afford a home loan of about $600,000, according to Daly. But he said few, if any, homes exist in that price range in East Hampton.

“The market doesn’t make this program very favorable right now,” Daly said. “But we’re hoping to see more inventory, and lower-cost inventory where more people are going to be able to do it.”

East Hampton officials said they’ll reevaluate the down payment assistance program after this year.

After voters approved a 2022 referendum, the town adopted a Community Housing Fund project plan in early 2023 that outlined permitted uses for the new tax money.

Members of an advisory board formed in March 2023 began reviewing more specific uses and the town began collecting money into the fund in April 2023.

Southampton, Shelter Island and Southold also created housing funds and established advisory boards to help map out affordable housing programs.

The housing funds are mirrored after the Community Preservation Funds the five East Ends towns have that for the past 25 years have used a 2% real estate tax to pay primarily for the preservation of open space.

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