Editorial: It All Goes Back to Housing

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Amagansett could be home to a new 37-unit affordable housing complex off Montauk Highway as soon as this fall, Catherine Casey, the executive director of the East Hampton Housing Authority, reported to the East Hampton Town Board on April 2 while requesting to stage the modular housing on a portion of the nearby 555 Montauk Highway, which was acquired by the town through its Community Preservation Fund for recreational use.

And in large part, the residents of East Hampton who will benefit from the development — including one-, two- and three-bedroom units — will have the hamlet of Amagansett to thank when the project comes to fruition. East Hampton Town Councilmen Jeffrey Bragman and David Lys reported to the town board this week that members of the Amagansett Citizens Advisory Committee continued to champion the project and support the housing of modular materials on the 555 Montauk Highway property, which will save the housing authority an estimated $75,000. It is this kind of support for affordable housing that we need from all our communities if we hope to put a dent in the biggest issue facing year-round residents and employers on the South Fork.

The topic of affordable and workforce housing seeps into almost every conversation these days, including water quality issues, transportation and traffic, declining school enrollment, employment trends and the viability of our volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps. Officials from booth East Hampton and Southampton towns should be applauded for considering housing at each and every turn. An expanded affordable apartment law, meant to incentivize the creation of detached affordable apartments on properties with close to an acre of land in East Hampton Town, will be a topic of discussion in the coming weeks as the Town Board considers reducing the amount of land required to build this type of unit — 100 are allowed under town code, with 20 in each hamlet; Councilwoman Sylvia Overby noted this week that 20 or fewer have been constructed town wide since the units were allowed.

Legal apartments are a real way to begin dealing with the housing crisis, especially when it comes to the work force in a region where the population has often fought against density in development, but also regrets seeing so many young people leave in search of more sustainable lives. Apartments also have the ability to serve seniors and parents who no longer need large homes, but still want to retire on the East End.

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