Will ‘affordable housing’ ever come to intransigent communities


When I sat in on the pre-endorsement interviews prior to last November’s elections, virtually every candidate, from Ed Mangano down said that one of the county’s greatest needs is affordable housing for senior citizens and to keep young people in their first real jobs from leaving for less expensive climes.

Pressed for a solution to that problem, however, most of them pointed to transportation-related development such as West 30 in Hempstead and developers such as Avalon Bay.

Those developments, however, are beyond the means of most seniors and young people just starting out, what with rents of more than $2,000 a month for a one or two-bedroom apartment. That is hardly affordable, at least to my mind.

The recent controversies in Huntington and Garden City, where residents beat back proposals to build real affordable housing in those communities point to what has always been the county’s priority — building single family homes, populating the county and the Town of Hempstead with tax-paying homeowners.

One does not have to look further than Harbor Isle to understand the paradigm that grew Nassau and Hempstead since the building boom that came after World War II.

Last year, Avalon Bay teamed with a local developer to propose a project for the small, rather isolated community that would have brought hundreds of rental units to the community, which shares a zip code and school system with Island Park, but is in the Town of Hempstead.

Personally, I did not believe that the project was good for Harbor Isle because of infrastructure, school and transportation problems it would have brought. Eventually, the Town of Hempstead rejected the project last November.

I sat at a hearing at a town meeting, however, and was bothered by the comments of many of Harbor Isle’s residents who opposed the project — not because of the problems mentioned above, but because it would bring (gasp) renters to the single home community.

I was once a homeowner, but have rented in a number of locations — all in Rockaway, Queens — since I returned to New York City from Connecticut in 1982. That’s more than 30 years a renter.

So, when I heard Harbor Isle residents decry renters for several reasons, it raised by ire.

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