The New York State Legislature passed this month a bill that would allow the five East End towns to create Town Community Housing Funds to help local governments ease the housing crunch.
The towns could use the fund to provide financial assistance to first-time homebuyers, rehabilitate community housing, produce community housing for sale or rent, offer housing counseling, and acquire housing units to be used as community housing.
“The lack of affordable housing has reached crisis proportions,” said state Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), who authored the bill. “This legislation will provide Towns with a meaningful tool that can make a difference by providing housing opportunities for its residents at a much greater rate than they can with existing resources and programs.”
The proposal has been sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has not indicated if he will sign the bill into law. If he does, the towns of East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton, and Southold would have to pass a home-rule message, create a community housing plan and put the issue up to a vote in a referendum.
The funds would be financed by adding a ½% tax to the 2% East End real estate transfer tax that fuels the Community Preservation Fund.