The Southold Town Housing Review Board is asking residents to complete a community housing survey to help them understand local housing needs as they draft a plan to present to the Town Board in the coming months.
Members of the Housing Review Board include real estate professionals, local business owners, bankers and town employees, according to Ms. Doherty, as well as representatives from the town’s housing commission, North Fork Housing Alliance and the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation.The plan under development will include a variety of options designed to help address the local housing crisis, including grants that will have to be paid back and some grants that won’t, Ms. Doherty said. They’re also hoping to include grants that will be available to nonprofit housing organizations.
“The plan is going to hopefully provide homebuyers and residents [with] maybe a down payment grant,” Ms. Doherty said. “Then, also on the other end of the spectrum, we’re going to give incentives to builders to build to abide by [affordable housing guidelines.]”
Expenditures from the Community Housing Fund would be focused on three objectives: increasing first-time home ownership, expanding the inventory of community housing — for both rental and purchase — and maintaining and supporting existing community housing.
The survey which the board developed with the help of consulting agency Nelson Pope Voorhis went live in October, before voters approved a new 0.5% real estate transfer fee to fund housing solutions on the East End. The legislation is a part of the Peconic Bay Region Community Housing Act, which was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul in the fall of 2021.
The transfer fee, which does not affect residents’ property taxes, could bring in between $1 million and $2 million per year for community housing in Southold. The town is slated to begin collecting funds this year. However, that money can’t be spent until the Town Board holds a public hearing and approves a plan for how it will be used.
Town officials said the survey has received 265 responses to date.
Although the board is eager to reach all age, income and demographic groups with this survey, Ms. Doherty said more input is specifically needed from town residents in the 20- to 40-year-old age group.
“We’re trying to develop the plan that will work best for them and if we have their input, the plan will be better,” she said.
The town hopes the survey will reveal “the priority of the needs and [how] the town can help,” she said.
Town officials said that the next data capture from the survey will occur at the end of January, but they plan to keep the survey open to ensure that the final plan is based on the largest possible number of responses and reflects the most recent metrics.
Although there’s no official deadline for completion of the board’s draft housing plan, Ms. Doherty hopes it will be ready to present to the Town Board by March. “We’ve come a long way on the plan,” she said. “We’re reaching out everywhere to get as much information as we can to make the best plan we can for the town, the community.”
The community housing survey is available online at southoldtownny.gov/1943/Community-Housing-Fund, in both English and Spanish. Paper copies are available at the Center for Advocacy, Support and Transformation (53930 Main Road) or the town planning department (54375 Main Road).
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly referred to the Southold Town Housing Review Board as the town Housing Advisory Commission. It has been updated.