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As real estate prices surge, village officials consider ways to boost affordable housing

Dwindling inventory, bidding wars and rising home prices on the North Fork fueled by the coronavirus pandemic have boosted the local real estate market in recent months, but the mass exodus from New York City has also heightened awareness around the need for affordable housing.

“There is no affordable housing anymore in this village,” Trustee Julia Robins said Thursday. “Houses that cost $400,000 and $500,000 are now going for $650,000 and $750,000.”

A recent lottery held for Vineyard View, an affordable housing complex nearing completion in Greenport, garnered over 500 applicants for just 50 available units, a statistic that Greenport Village Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said highlights the “serious need” for affordable options in the area.

At Thursday’s work session, Mr. Hubbard pitched the idea of modifying the village code to begin allowing accessory apartments to be constructed in residential areas in order to help meet the need.

He said the code amendment could include restrictions on size as well as a stipulation that the units remain affordable.

“[People] could live here instead of traveling from Riverhead, Wading River and Rocky Point to come out here and go to work,” he said, adding that the added apartment stock could benefit people of all ages.

“If we could open up the market and end up with 50 more small apartments around the village, I think it’d be a win for everybody,” Mr. Hubbard said.

While met with support from the board of trustees, issues identified as areas to address include preventing the units from being rented on Airbnb, increased parking needs, zoning and building height.

Current village code does not allow for accessory apartments, but officials are researching similar codes in Southold Town, Brookhaven and Sag Harbor to model.

Officials are also looking into the viability of allowing “tiny” houses as secondary dwellings on residential properties.

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