In an effort to further the cause of affordable housing on the East End on Tuesday, September 28, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. and State Senator Anthony Palumbo led a coalition of more than 35 East End leaders and organizations who signed a letter urging Governor Kathy Hochul to sign A.2633/S.6492, enacting the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Act, which would authorize the five towns in the Hamptons and North Fork to hold mandatory referenda for the creation of dedicated town housing funds. These funds would be achieved through a supplemental real estate transfer tax, which would be added to the current Community Preservation Fund (CPF) transfer tax.
The Long Island Association and the Long Island Builders Institute have also endorsed the legislation in separate letters of support.
Thiele’s letter cites a State Comptroller report naming Suffolk County as the fourth most expensive county in NY when it comes to rentals, and the second most expensive for home purchases. “For 31.8% of Suffolk renters and 17.5% of homeowners, that burden is ‘severe,'” the letter explains, while also noting the majority of funds would come from luxury housing selling for more than $2 million.
The legislation increases financial resources to address the critical demand for affordable housing in the Peconic Bay Region, according to a notice sent out by Thiele’s office on Tuesday, which points out, “If the CHF had been in place in 2020, it would have generated more than $30 million across the region to provide financial assistance for first-time homebuyers and for the actual production of new affordable housing opportunities.”
Communities who vote to approve this Act in each town—including East Hampton, Southampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead and Southold townships—would be authorizing the creation of dedicated town funds to implement affordable housing initiatives across the Peconic Bay Region. Before the fund could be implemented, Thiele’s letter to the governor says each town would be required to create a Community Housing Plan to demonstrate to the public how it would produce affordable housing. It would then be subject to a mandatory referendum.
The CHF would be financed in each of the five towns by an additional ½% increase to the existing 2% real estate transfer tax that funds the CPF. The legislation would also reduce the real estate transfer tax for nearly one-third of all transactions by increasing the exemption on improved properties.
On the South Fork and Shelter Island, the exemption would be increased from $250,000 to $400,000, and on the North Fork, it would be increased from $150,000 to $200,000. The net impact of these changes to the tax would be to reduce the existing transfer tax on the South Fork and Shelter Island on all transactions of $1 million or less and on all transactions of $400,000 or less on the North Fork.
See copies of the letters to Gov. Hochul below.