The Southampton Town Board has been calling for more affordable housing for years, and it seems someone may have picked up the phone.
Following the board’s recent decision to pass updates to the town’s accessory apartments law, Concern for Independent Living, Inc., which describes itself as a nonprofit committed to helping individuals and families live in a community with dignity and enhanced opportunities through the provision of housing and support services, has proposed a 60-unit project next to the Southampton Full Gospel Church on County Road 39.
Thirty-six one-bedroom apartments would be rented for $550 to $800 a month, and 24 two-bedroom units would rent for $1100 to $1200. Fifteen units would be put aside for veterans, who could choose special housing upgrades based on personal needs. Concern for Independent Living also helps service members find jobs in their communities.
“It’s gratifying for us to be able to provide this service,” said Ralph Fasano, the company’s director. “In all our projects, we try to develop housing that does not look like affordable housing. We like when people confuse us with luxury housing and condos. We find the land, get the funds to build, construct high-quality housing, and maintain it. We’re a soup-to-nuts agency.”
Concern For Independent Living manages 275 different sites, and has over 1300 rental units and 300 employees. The group’s Amityville location, a similar-style project, was rented to capacity within a month. The nonprofit is also closing a deal on a Port Jefferson Station location. The project, which Fasano estimates would cost $28 million, would be dependent on 9 percent being funded by state low-income housing tax credits.
According to Neighborhood Scout, the median household income in Southampton is $102,344, with 13.5 percent of the population living below the poverty level, but the average property value is $1,881,303, with 55.7 percent of homes costing more than $1.27 million. Neighborhood Scout also lists the average market rent at $2673 per month.
“We know the need is critical,” Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said when the board discussed the proposal on Thursday, February 7. “Numbers continue to get worse for workforce housing. I think it’s too important not to take this proposal to the next level.”
Councilwoman Christine Preston Scalera, along with fellow board members John Bouvier and Julie Lofstad, asked the company to survey surrounding residents to gauge their reaction to and interest in the project — an area of concern being the proposed rerouting of traffic to mitigate issues on County Road 39. Jim Havrilla, senior architect at Melville-based H2M Architects + Engineers, proposed cutting into a cul-de-sac on Seasons Lane and connecting it to Hillcrest Terrace to get out to North Sea Road. While it would help ease congestion, neighbors may or may not like the idea.
“With these points, there’s a lot going on, but it goes with the corridor use plan to give the community a lot of options,” Havrilla said. “It certainly starts to give opportunities to alleviate, and give alternate routes for traffic around the site.”
Five units will be in each building. Each will have its own separate entrance, at least one bedroom, a full bath, kitchen, and living room. Two buildings will share a common, centrally located laundry space. There will be other common areas such as patios with tables, benches throughout, and a loop to connect the property that residents could walk along. A community building would house a small fitness area, a larger community room, library and computer space, and offices for staff and support. The main reception area would be operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Besides the daily staff, there would be overnight security.
“This is needed, particularly on the East End. I like it,” Bouvier said. “There’s an absolute need; it’s just getting it to the community in a way that is palatable to everyone. It hits a lot of buttons to me.”
Lofstad, liaison to the town’s Citizens Advisory Committees, said she would reach out to group leaders to see about scheduling a special meeting to discuss the proposal. The board asked Fasano and the rest of his team to speak to neighbors and Southampton Village, because a corner of the property is village-owned, to ensure feedback is gathered from all parties involved. Concern for Independent Living would require a rezoning of the property with its formal application. The nonprofit’s representatives were asked to report their findings on several environmental issues, along with community feedback, at the February 28 work session. If the plan seems well liked, a proposal would be submitted and a public hearing would be slated for as early as March 12 at 1 PM.