Letter: Housing Hyperbole Isn’t Helpful

The recent firing of missives between Governor Hochul and Supervisor Smyth of Huntington is unhelpful and will lead to no real solutions to the region’s housing crisis.  It’s time to back off the soundbites and really discuss this complex issue.

First, Governor Hochul.  Comparing Huntington to Brooklyn is guaranteed to provoke.  Even those of us who spend all our time arguing for the increased density that is the only way to create affordable housing do not want Huntington to look like Brooklyn.  Nor Queens, for all those Huntingtonians who accuse us of trying to turn it into Queens.  Yes, we need more density.  Yes, we need more diverse housing.  Yes, the only way this is going to happen is if the state makes everyone take their fair share of the housing burden.  But find a more appropriate comparison, please.

Next, Supervisor Smyth.  He’s right in that we don’t have the infrastructure need for this– but then, let’s get some.  Don’t tell us no, tell us how!  And Governor, we’re counting on you here.  The short stretch of needed sewer in Huntington Station is already a $60+ million project and is far from being started, much less built.  The $250 million you are proposing for sewers is chump change, and probably not enough to do Huntington properly, much less the rest of LI.  Most of the train stations on LI for your TOD initiative don’t have the needed sewer infrastructure, much less road improvements.

But we have to call out the Supervisor for claiming Huntington is the gold standard for housing development in New York which is magical thinking of the highest order.  Unless of course, he meant that you have to have plenty of gold to develop housing in Huntington.

Huntington is the town that fought Matinecock Court all the way to the US Supreme Court, then didn’t comply with most of the ruling, eventually running out the clock on the financing for these affordable homes.

And perhaps he was misquoted but each of the developments he cites has not created thousands of homes.  First, Matinecock still isn’t built.  Second, the town’s project for veterans, Columbia Terrace, was delayed many, many times, and still has only one tenant.  The town has a full arsenal of hoops that any housing project has to jump through, including zoning variances, planning restrictions, architectural review, historical review, and listening sessions to delay, delay, delay–which is, of course, the town’s goal: keep everything just as it is.

Supervisor Smyth pushed though the bill making the total square feet for apartments above stores be no more than 150% of the ground floor, making apartments above stores a financial impossibility.  That’s not a gold standard, that’s a stagnation standard.

Huntington is only a positive model if you compare us to our closest north shore neighbors, which is why it is important that every town has to shoulder some of the load– our neighbors are not doing their part, either.

We all want to keep our drinking water and the bay water clean.  But the answer isn’t “so stop building housing!”.  The answer has to be “tell us HOW we can protect our water while we create the needed affordable housing”.

It’s time to put aside the bloviating and get to the real issues.

Op-Ed: A Sad Day for Huntington Housing

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