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Community Housing Board to seek budget hike

ILLUSTRATION GETTY IMAGE/iStock

ILLUSTRATION GETTY IMAGE/iStock

It’s budget season and the Community Housing Board is convinced it needs more than the $3,844 that was allocated for the current year, as it ramps up activities for the creation of affordable housing on the Island.

Committee Chairwoman Mary-Faith Westervelt wasn’t sure exactly how much funding to seek, she told colleagues Michael Bebon and Chris DiOrio at the September 27 meeting. Since there wasn’t a quorum, the three could informally discuss plans, but not take any formal action.

Ms. Westervelt explained that she’d met with Supervisor Gary Gerth and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams who suggested putting $10,000 in the committee’s budget line for the upcoming year and, if a specific need for more funding arose, it could come from the town’s contingency fund.

Among costs that the committee’s budget have covered are advertising and consulting, but those costs — particularly for consulting — may increase in 2019.

Ms. Westervelt is scheduled to meet with the Town Board as it begins opening sessions with department chiefs and committees on Friday, October 5.

Just how the $10,000 price tag will play with other Town Board members remains to be seen.

Despite the lack of a quorum on September 27, the three Community Housing Board members had an informal discussion that included preliminary plans for a forum with builders and financial experts to be held later this fall.

Mr. Bebon outlined a possible agenda that could include:
• If the builders and financial experts envision a need for affordable rentals and whether its absence has had an impact on their businesses.
• Regulations and requirements imposed by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services on septic systems, wells and energy efficiencies.
• Ways to keep units perpetually affordable by standards set by the federal government for the county.
• Restrictions that could be imposed on qualifying for affordable rentals and how to control that factor.
• Determining if any of the local builders would have interest in investing in affordable housing.
• Does the ability to build on town-owned land might make projects more attractive to the builders?
• For the financial representatives, are they aware of any grants or subsidies that might be available for projects?
• Other ideas the builders and/or financial experts might have on the subject of providing affordable housing.

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