Housing Fund Passes in 3 East End Towns, Shelter Island Too Close to Call

A rendering of the 60-unit apartment complex planned for Southampton next to Southampton Full Gospel Church on County Road 39 - community housing fund could pay for things like this
A rendering of the 60-unit apartment complex planned for Southampton next to Southampton Full Gospel Church on County Road 39. Independent/Courtesy Concern for Independent Living, Inc.

East End voters approved a proposal to create a new real estate tax to form the Community Housing Fund that will enable local governments to financially support affordable housing projects. 

The referendum passed in three of the five Twin Forks towns but is trailing by a thin margin on Shelter Island, where absentee ballots are still being counted. Riverhead did not have the measure up for a vote, but can choose to do so in the future.

The CHF enacts a 0.5% real estate transfer tax on property sales.

“I am thrilled that voters have tackled the affordable housing crisis head on by approving the Community Housing Fund,” said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor). “The sustainability of our community depends on providing affordable housing for all members of our community. The referendum approval provides a new and important tool in the toolbox to provide our local families with new housing opportunities.”

The idea is modeled after the Community Preservation Fund, which created a 2% real estate tax 20 years ago that enables local governments to preserve open space.

Town of East Hampton voters passed the measure by the greatest margin: 66% to 31%, followed by the Town of Southold with 58% to 41% and the Town of Southampton with 53% to 46%, according to unofficial Election Day tallies from the Suffolk County Board of Elections.

On Shelter Island, the referendum trailed 881-889, although at least 78 absentee and affidavit ballots have yet to be counted. 

“From apartments to home ownership, we can address these needs across a broad section of the community, both low income and moderate income,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell. “This is an essential component so we can retain a substantial portion of our community who cannot find reasonable housing opportunities. We can make sure that, under a plan we are in the process of crafting, we can create affordable housing opportunities yet still comply with other goals stated in our Comprehensive Master Plan.”

More from Our Sister Sites