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Rental Housing Shortage

Can’t find a good house to rent on Long Island?

Join the crowd of frustrated young parents, recent college graduates, and retirees. The Island’s failure to meet the demand for affordable rental housing is straining our economy and hurting the quality of life.

Long Islanders who go away for an education find they can’t come back. And as the population ages, many seniors don’t want the burden of owning a single family home or can no longer afford it. Here’s the simple fact: Long Island’s housing cost burden is among the highest in the nation. Rental costs have climbed 17% since 2000, and the region has far fewer rental units than neighboring suburban communities.

The Long Island Community Foundation, with support from the Ford Foundation, helped bring together a group of housing advocates, business and civic leaders, academics, and public officials to start coming up with an affordable housing strategy. 


The goal: to design a way to build multi-family affordable rental homes in communities with good schools, strong local economies, and room to grow. The group focused on data collection, public education, and policy planning. 

For the past two years, the Foundation has worked with the taskforce. The result: the first Long Island affordable rental housing report, plus community engagement toolkits, a centralized database of affordable housing resources, and coordination between affordable and fair housing supporters. The Long Island Rental Housing Crisis report and local toolkits were supported by an $86,000 grant from the Long Island Community Foundation. The study, conducted by the Regional Planning Association, provides data that identified the problems and a set of recommended solutions. Read the full report here.

Another study, commissioned through a $10,000 grant from the Henry H. Shepard Fund at LICF for Hofstra University’s National Center for Suburban Studies analyzes accessory dwelling units, and whether they relieve the Island’s rental shortage. “Data gathering is an important part of this program,” says Sol Marie Alfonso-Jones program officer at LICF, “because Long Island doesn’t have a centralized depository for housing data. Funding these studies gives the community tools to strengthen policies and address some long-standing barriers.” In this report, there is a basic survey of existing zoning code, local demographics in permitting and non-permitting jurisdictions, prevalence of legal ADUs, and local government officials’ attitudes towards those units. In the course of the study, it is also noted, the challenges involved in studying ADUs generally and the challenges that reforming local ADU policy is likely to face. Read the Overview on Accessory Dwellings on Long Island, here.

Another $20,000 LICF grant helped the Center for Popular Democracy conduct a review and legal analysis of the Long Island Workforce Housing Act so the law can be strengthened. Download the full report and see what the findings were, here.

All this should help future generations find a home — and an affordable one — on the Island.

Affordable Rental Housing Reports & Studies


Long Island Community Foundation | A Division of The New York Community Trust
900 Walt Whitman Road | (Rt. 110) Suite 205 | Melville, NY 11747
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