America’s first suburb has gone from being one of the most affordable places to raise a family to one of the least. For half a century, Nassau and Suffolk rode a wave of national trends to lead the U.S. in suburban growth and prosperity. At LICF we want to help expand quality affordable housing opportunities for all Long Islanders.
Suburbanites who struggle to find affordable rentals now have confirmation of what they suspected: Long Island has far fewer rentals than other areas around New York City, and fewer than 5% are vacant. Despite high demand, the Island is building townhouses and apartments slower than nearby suburbs. Rents have increased far more than incomes, undermining Nassau and Suffolk counties’ efforts to attract young workers and professionals starting careers. Those are the findings of a study by the Regional Plan Association and Long Island Affordable and Fair Housing Initiative Advisory Group, supported by an $86,000 grant from the Long Island Community Foundation.
The study found a major obstacle: Zoning regulations often prevent construction of residential buildings on small lots in tightly packed neighborhoods near train stations, where they’d benefit the most people and take away the least green space.
The Long Island Community 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 Foundation has worked with the taskforce and the results: 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.
All this should help future generations find a home — and an affordable one — on the Island.