Habitat for Humanity house to be built in Orient

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | The blighted Orient home will be torn down and replaced with a modern Habitat for Humanity home.

It may not look like much now, but a blighted property on Greenway East in Orient will soon feature a modern Habitat for Humanity house that will be home to one Southold Town family.

The long-vacant house that currently exists on the parcel was identified through Suffolk County’s 72H affordable housing program, which is designed to turn repossessed properties over to local communities to offer the homes to low-income families.

In March, the county offered the property to the town for affordable housing and has since provided $10,000 in funding for the project through a community block grant.

During its regular meeting last Tuesday the Southold Town Board approved the allocation of the grant money to assist Habitat for Humanity in demolition and clean up of the blighted property and also waived fees for disposal of demolished materials at the Southold Transfer Station.

Phillip Beltz, town special projects coordinator, welcomed the prospect of bringing more affordable housing to Southold.

“We are in dire need of affordable housing,” he said. “When I first started here the lack of perpetual affordability was one of the greatest oversights I noticed.”

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | The foreclosed property is in extreme disrepair.

At present, Southold Town only has 22 units of affordable housing covered by resale restrictions regulating the price, all of which are located at The Cottages in Mattituck, Mr. Beltz said. Town officials also put out a request for proposals for 40 affordable apartment rentals spread out across the town, but there is currently no specific plan in place, Mr. Beltz said.

The added bonus of working with Habitat is that the organization ensures that the property will remain affordable, Mr. Beltz said. Habitat continues to hold a stake in the property so that if it’s sold, much of the appreciation will be used by the organization to continue its programs. Alternatively, Habitat will write a covenant in the deed requiring that the house be sold at an affordable price to another family eligible for affordable housing.

The Orient home would be Habitat’s first property in the Town of Southold, according to Habitat for Humanity of Suffolk president and CEO Diane Burke.

“Habitat is very excited to have the opportunity to work within the Southold community,” she said. “ The east end of Long Island is a desired location to live and raise children and we will work to create a home in Orient that will enhance and beautify the residential area. “

Pending the closing of this property, targeted for the fall of 2013, Habitat will work with the town to develop a strategic construction plan tailored for the site. Habitat officials estimate the house will be ready by spring 2014.

Southold’s Housing Department will begin accepting and screening applications for the property this fall, Ms. Burke said. Candidates must meet structured Town and Habitat income guidelines and agree to contribute hands-on build time or “sweat equity” if selected. They would also need to complete educational classes and perform community service as part of the down payment on their new home.

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