Stable and quality housing plays a central role in determining a person’s quality of life, yet too many Long Islanders are facing housing insecurity. Long Island’s persistent shortage of affordable and rental housing has serious social and economic implications that threaten the sustainability of the region. Increasing numbers of young people are leaving the region because of the lack of housing options; Long Island’s elderly – the fastest growing segment of the population – have no housing choices in the communities where they live if they want to sell their homes; nearly four in ten Long Island households pay more than 35 percent of their income on housing (up from three in ten in 2000); and the region is losing some of its large employers to other areas that accommodate the needs of their diverse workforce.
At a time when significant demographic shifts require a variety of home options, rents have increased by 17% since 2000 while incomes declined by 2%, and the region has far fewer rental units than neighboring counties. Furthermore, only a small percentage of Long Island’s rental stock is ‘affordable’ based on median income, the majority of which is restricted and concentrated in low-income communities, and prohibitive zoning laws and community opposition in neighborhoods of opportunity continue to perpetuate segregation. With limited options, an increasing number of Long Island’s working class is turning to illegal and often unsafe accessory apartments. The grimmest reflection of Long Island’s housing crisis can be found in increased homelessness: between 2005 and 2012 the percentage of homeless families on Long Island had increased by 36%.
In 2011, LICF solicited a grant from the Ford Foundation to assemble a broad group of non-profit, public, and private stakeholders to develop regional solutions that would dismantle pervasive barriers to the development of non-discriminatory affordable rental housing. As a result of this work, Long Island’s first comprehensive report highlighting the rental housing shortage was released and a public messaging toolkit was created for civic organizations in two communities where there was an opportunity to influence the development of affordable multi-family buildings. As a result of this work in the towns of Huntington and Brookhaven, relevant Town Board approvals were realized that were necessary for the creation of two important housing developments: Ruland Road and the Ronkonkoma Hub. In order to continue our commitment to advance affordable and fair housing, LICF’s Board of Advisors approved a new grant making issue area, Community Development.
On Long Island:
- Rental housing makes up 21% of Long Island’s housing stock compared with 35% in Westchester/Connecticut, and 37% in New Jersey.
- FOUR in TEN Long Islanders are spending more than 35% of their household income on housing.
- Only THREE out of every HUNDRED homes are affordable for young adults.
- Long Island’s 4.3% rental vacancy means that there are fewer available rental homes than in any other suburban area in the New York region.
- Every 100 new units of rental housing generates 32 local jobs, $2.3 million in income and $395,000 in tax revenue annually.