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Jul 14, 2010 12:15 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton at work on its affordable housing business plan

Jul 14, 2010 12:15 PM

Al Algieri, chairman of the East Quogue Citizens Advisory Committee, does not want to see affordable rental units built in his backyard, and he made his feelings on the subject known at a committee meeting last year.

The East Quogue resident said that rentals, including some proposed for Jones Road, could endanger his neighborhood, and added recently that he only wants to see affordable housing projects built for ownership.

The Southampton Town Housing Authority is taking opinions like Mr. Algieri’s to heart by revising its business plan to reflect the community’s opinions. The quasi-governmental agency has also ensured that the two units planned for Jones Road are now for ownership, said Ann Gajowski, the business manager for the Housing Authority.

The authority recently wrapped up a tour of all of Southampton Town’s 10 Citizens Advisory Committees to seek their members’ input on what affordable housing projects would be suitable in their communities.

“We want more community input so we don’t have the situation we had when the whole community was up in arms over the whole situation,” said Ms. Gajowski, referring to the affordable rentals proposal in East Quogue. “We want to be there as someone who helps each neighborhood ... without cramming it down anyone’s throat.”

Ms. Gajowski, who has been an employee of the Housing Authority since 2006, is working with Southampton Town Management Services Administrator Richard Blowes on the business plan, which will be a “living document” and continuously amended. Mr. Blowes is acting as the executive director of the housing authority and providing his service “in kind” without any extra pay, Ms. Gajowski said.

Ms. Gajowski noted that the Housing Authority is considered “quasi-governmental” because its governing board, led by Bonnie Cannon, is appointed by the Town Board. Ms. Cannon is also on the Southampton Village Board of Trustees.

Last year, Ms. Cannon and other town officials walked out of the meeting on the two Jones Road rental homes. The community lambasted the town officials for proposing rental units instead of units for home ownership.

Residents of Flanders, where seven affordable units are planned, also shot back at the Housing Authority for proposing rental units in their area. The members of the Flanders community say that they already have enough affordable housing.

Now, all of those affordable units will be slated for homeownership, Ms. Gajowski explained.

The land in question was seized by Suffolk County for back payment of taxes and then deeded to Southampton Town through the 72-H program. How the Housing Authority will address housing projects similar to those in the 72-H program will be a part of the updated business plan.

The updated business plan will also provide information on what properties the town will make as rentals and what will be for permanent ownership, Ms. Gajowski said.

Ms. Gajowski explained that the Housing Authority, which has its own employee tax identification number, was created with seed money from the town in 2002 and has a pre-existing business plan. The new one, however, will better reflect community desires, she explained. Ms. Gajowski, who works part-time, is paid through the town’s seed money and explained her position will eventually be funded through the administrative fees from the authority’s projects.

Although they have gathered community input, Ms. Gajowski said that the updated business plan will not be ready to present to the Town Board for a few months. She declined to go into specifics of the plan because it is not finished. The plan will, however, address how the Housing Authority will interact with a not-for-profit sub-branch of it, the Southampton Community Housing and Development Corporation, which was created in 2007 and is led by the same board as the Housing Authority, with the addition of member Vincent Taldone.

Ms. Gajowski explained that the ultimate vision is to have the Housing Authority hold real estate long-term. The not-for-profit branch, which is currently the owner of the nine 72-H properties, will be able to accept donations and apply for grants, she said.

“The Housing Authority is governed by different rules,” she said, explaining that the Housing Authority is governed by the state public housing law.

The Housing Authority is separate and distinct from Southampton Town’s Housing and Community Development department, led by John White, Ms. Gajowski explained. The Housing and Community Development Department works with the Long Island Housing Partnership on some housing projects and oversees the Bridgehampton Mews in Bridgehampton, the Morrow Apartments in Hampton Bays, located in the King Kullen shopping center, and the Water Mill Ateliers in Water Mill, according to the Southampton Town website.

The Southampton Housing Authority, on the other hand, bought the Hampton Bays Apartments on Springville Road and has a company manage them, Ms. Gajowski said.

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Guess the rest of the towns that want affordable housing will have to take East Quogue's share?

Who would that be exactly?

By bb (922), Hampton Bays on Jul 15, 10 11:39 AM
Could someone enlighten us as to the price point, which is considered "affordable"?

I'd like to know if someone who pulls in $30k, or less a year has a snowball's chance in HE**...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 15, 10 7:02 PM
I believe it's 80-120% of the median income for a family of a certain size. I could be wrong, but I know that's very much in the ballpark - if I'm not mistaken the County sets the guidelines but the Town's can make adjustments to the numbers. And no, if you make $30,000 you cannot afford one. I looked at the condos along Majors Path when the lottery opened, and for a single individual the maximum yearly income was aprox. $50,000 and the cheapest unit was around $210,000 and a downpayment of at ...more
By Nature (2966), Hampton Bays on Jul 16, 10 2:23 PM
Plus they were condos so you have a monthly fee. on top of a mortgage.
By richgetricher (9), northsea on Jul 24, 10 7:40 PM
Knowing the town they probably think $125K is affordable housing
By LUVSH (28), Southampton on Jul 16, 10 1:45 PM
So, I would wager that a conclusion I have drawn about our local area would have some validity.

The abuse of the "American Dream" by the interlopers who have brought their cost of living to us, has destroyed that dream for our local youth.
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Jul 19, 10 10:22 AM
How many layers of government do we have here to provide a service?
There aeems to be three different divisions providing the same or similar service.
By North of Highway (280), Westhampton Beach on Jul 21, 10 7:31 AM
Jessica....what is ment by quasi-governmental agency????
By UNITED states CITIZEN (207), SOUTHAMPTON on Jul 23, 10 5:25 PM
Nobody elected Al Algieri to speak for "his" community. The Southampton Town Board has a long sad history of listening and pandering to those who have more time on their hands than the majority of the community.
By VOS (1241), WHB on Jul 23, 10 11:08 PM