Featured Letter: Town should stay out of affordable housing

To the Editor:

The town wants to become an affordable housing landlord? Where do they get the money to buy these properties? Will they be able to make a profit or will they lose taxpayer dollars? 

Being a landlord is a full time job with much risk. What is the budget to staff this department? It’s best to leave the affordable housing to the private sector. A person looking for a place to live will find a rental based on their budget. A landlord will rent a space based on their budget. Both will take a risk with the other. Both will have responsibilities and obligations to the other. 

Is the town willing to take the risk of being a landlord? If the town wants the private sector to take on the risk of being a landlord then the private sector sets the rent. The rents on Shelter Island will not be set by a national average. The local short-term rental law and the New York State Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019 will increase the burdens and cost on the landlord, not the tenant. The rents will go up. 

If you want to lower the rents, decrease the burdens and risk on the landlord. On the Island, promote accessory apartments; when there’s a surplus of apartments, then the rents will go down. There’s nothing stopping a homeowner from renting a space based on the affordable housing guidelines. A landlord can place an ad promoting the fact: “Affordable Rent.” The town should not get involved in an industry that is beyond their scope. 

What’s next? “Affordable Food?” 

Chris Stehling

Shelter Island