New focus put on affordable rentals in Southold Town

Southold Town is casting a wide net in its search for potential builders of affordable housing.

The Town Board agreed Tuesday to issue a request for proposals from developers to pursue projects in the HALO (hamlet locus) zones near village centers.

Those areas are identified in the town’s zoning code.

Developers who adhere to the town’s affordable housing income guidelines would be eligible for federal grant funding.

Planning director Heather Lanza, special projects coordinator Philip Beltz and Dan Sarnowski of the town’s Housing Advisory Commission told board members at Tuesday’s work session they believe the town is in dire need of affordable rentals.

They’d also like new development to be undertaken through the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, with a small number of units in each building.

Board members said they would favor spreading the housing evenly throughout town, to avoid the development of large tracts of low-income housing.

Town attorney Martin Finnegan said it should be made clear to bidders that the Town Board will have to create affordable housing districts for their projects to be approved.

The housing would be made available to people who make less than 80 percent of the area median annual income. Families of two earning less than $68,800 would qualify, as would families of four who earn less than $86,000.

Rental rates, excluding utilities, were set Tuesday at $941 for efficiency apartments, $1,008 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,210 for two-bedroom units.
Supervisor Scott Russell said he’s not sure if there will be any interested bidders, but he wants the town to be more proactive in letting developers know they’re looking to establish lower-cost housing.

“What kind of creative energy can you bring to it to help us achieve these goals?” he asked.

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