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What to do with Southold Town’s affordable housing funds?

Southold Town’s Housing Advisory Commission has been thinking of ways to spend more than $400,000 the town has earmarked for affordable housing, but is “holding out” in case it’s needed for a larger rental unit development, according to commission chair Rona Smith and government liaison officer Denis Noncarrow.

The available funding is raised when developers in inclusionary zoning areas opt to pay into an affordable housing fund rather than include affordable housing as part of their projects. The question is what that money can be used for, Mr. Russell said Tuesday.

“It’s earmarked for affordable housing, but we don’t think that is specific in a sense,” Ms. Smith said. And that’s for two reasons, she said, one being that “in our headlights is larger project by an outside developer that would come in and do affordable units.” The money is being held to possibly “fill their cup,” Ms. Smith said, noting it would take a “patchwork” of different funding to allow a developer to achieve a project.

“We want to wait and see,” she said. “That’s really on the cusp of being real. We’ve looked at properties with them, we’ve engaged in a lot of different activities with these potential developers to see if this is going to be feasible for the town.”

But the commission has also considered other ways the pool of money could be used if a sizable project doesn’t materialize or a developer doesn’t need the funds, Ms. Smith said. Those ideas include short-term loans at low interest rates for down payment assistance, or loans for those who want to create an accessory apartment. The funds could also be put toward grants or be used to offset costs for alternative wastewater treatment systems and other public policy goals, the supervisor added.

The idea is for there to be a revolving fund for affordable housing initiatives, Ms. Smith said.

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Photo: Southold Town government liaison officer Denis Noncarrow (right) and Southold Town Housing Advisory Commission chair Rona Smith address the Southold Town Board during Tuesday’s work session. (Credit: Kelly Zegers)