A recent change in Huntington’s town code allows for a developer to shift affordable housing requirements from one property to another.
The effect of the change in requirements, touted by both elected officials and housing advocates, caught the attention of several residents, some of whom complained online after HuntingtonNow published a story about new town homes on Spring Road. No affordable units were listed among the new townhomes, known as Spring House, and were offered for sale at $1.7 million.
But housing advocate Hunter Gross, and Councilman Sal Ferro, who proposed the change to allow the swapping of requirements, say that more affordable units would result.
Under the change, a developer can use another property he or she owns to fulfill the rule that 20 percent of units of a project that requires rezoning be designated as affordable housing.
In the case of the Spring Road townhomes, the trade means that instead of a single large luxury unit, three apartments at Gateway Plaza will go on the affordable-housing market.
“It’s clear we have a housing crisis in Huntington,” said Hunter Gross, president of the Huntington Township Housing Coalition. The group “supports this change to the town code because we believe it will spur more building of projects with an affordable component. Any code change that will add more units of affordable housing is a win for all of us.”
Ferro said that, under the code change, the swap can only involve developments owned by the same person or company, that the units must be in the same school district, and that affordable units must be available before or at the same time as other units in new construction.
Supporters of the transfer of requirements say that more affordable units, such as what the Town Boad approved with the Spring Road-Gateway swap, will result. Builders note that luxury properties often have expensive and ongoing maintenance costs, as well as rising homeowner association fees.