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| Organizing for Housing Justice & A Home to Thrive

New Report Details Fundamental Flaws in Long Island Workforce Housing Act

For Immediate Release: May 14, 2015

Contact: Ricardo A. Ramírez, rramirez@populardemocracy.org, 202-464-7376

Read the report here: /documents/long-island-workforce-housing-act-report-2015-05112015pdf


Seven years after New York State passed landmark legislation to increase affordable housing on Long Island, a new report finds that not only does the affordable-housing crisis persist, but the legislation has fundamental flaws that prevent it from paving the way to affordable homes for Long Island’s families.


The Long Island Workforce Housing Act, enacted in 2008, sets affordability too high for working families, has loopholes for developers, and doesn’t require that towns report relevant information to the state, according to the report, commissioned by the Long Island Community Foundation and written by the Center for Popular Democracy, a national group dedicated to equity issues.


There is much more work to do before our state and local laws foster a community where all working families can find affordable housing,” said Amy Carroll, Chief of Staff of the Center for Popular Democracy, who released the report. “While the Long Island Workforce Housing Act was a first step to tackle the crisis of affordable housing on Long Island, the data is clear: Seven years later, the difficult housing market is failing to provide options for Long Islanders who need affordable housing – from seniors to young professionals and working families. Worse still, the lack of affordable housing exacerbates segregation in the region, and disproportionately impacts Long Island’s working families, residents of color, and immigrant communities.”


“This truly is a crisis -- Long Island is losing large employers to other regions that are more hospitable to employers and workers,” said David Okorn, of the Long Island Community Foundation. “We’re failing to meet the needs of our elders, young professionals and working families, and Long Islanders continue to live in segregated communities.”


“After fighting for affordable housing in Garden City for more than 10 years, NYCC members know that blatant discrimination is alive and well on Long Island,” said Diane Goins, President Long Island Chapter New York Communities for Change. “When the Long Island Workforce Housing Act was passed, many low- and moderate-income residents in Nassau and Suffolk hoped that it would lead to more inclusive, mixed-income communities. CPD’s report clearly shows that this law is flawed and has failed to provide real affordable housing in our communities on Long Island, continuing the pattern of segregation that has plagued us for decades.”

"As the Assembly sponsor of the original version of this legislation, I fully support efforts to examine whether the Long Island Workforce Housing Act is working and helping Long Island families. The Center for Popular Democracy has put forth recommendations that should be considered as more efforts are needed to tackle the shortage of affordable housing on Long Island," said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“Long Island’s housing policies, by design and by default, have failed to meet the housing needs of diverse populations; diverse racially, by income levels, by family composition, and the like,” said V. Elaine Gross, president of ERASE Racism. “Regrettably, the Long Island Workforce Housing Act has not been the hoped for solution.  Now is the time to reject housing policies that concentrate poverty and segregate racially, and create policies that support racially and economically integrated communities where all residents can thrive.”


“The Act may have caused some municipalities to become more aware of their housing needs; however, it did little to stimulate the creation of affordable homes on Long Island as was its stated intent,” said Jim Morgo, Suffolk County’s first Commissioner of Economic Development and Workforce Housing. “Revisions in the law and  especially state incentives would help additional municipalities meet the varied housing needs of low- and moderate-income Long Islanders.”


“Developers are ready to be part of the solution to address Long Island’s affordable housing crisis. Our members are eager to build quality, affordable homes,” said Mitch Palley, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute. “We need local governments to work with us to change the zoning and other regulatory barriers that stand in our way.”


The report highlights significant flaws in the Act that have hampered its implementation and stresses that fixing these problems requires state policymakers to reimagine public policies that truly ensure access to affordable, quality housing for working families and foster diverse, mixed-income communities.


Flaws with the Long Island Workforce Housing Act:


  • Sets affordability too high and out of reach for working families in Long Island, targeting families making $140,000 per year.

  • Includes loopholes, such as allowing developers to build affordable units off-site, that could exacerbate racial segregation

  • Includes no requirements that towns keep or report information about affordable housing construction to the state to facilitate analysis of compliance with the Act;

  • Includes no enforcement mechanisms to allow residents or the state to hold towns or developers accountable for violations and no public education on its requirements; and

  • Has significant drafting and technical problems that complicate interpretation and application of the law


The report urges leaders in Long Island and New York State as a whole to take a comprehensive, holistic approach to tackling the crisis of affordability.  Recommendations include:


  • Requirements and/or incentives for jurisdictions to accommodate their share of the regional affordable housing need;

  • Targeting affordability for families across the income spectrum, including those at 50% of area median income and below;

  • Promotion of inclusive, mixed-income communities, and steps for municipalities to affirmatively further fair housing goals;

  • Investment in high-poverty areas to ensure revitalization, and protections against displacement of existing low-income communities; and

  • Effective government oversight and enforcement, including adequate record-keeping and reporting by local governments about their efforts to address affordability and fair housing issues.


Read the report here: /documents/long-island-workforce-housing-act-report-2015-05112015pdf.

About LICF:

Since 1978, the Long Island Community Foundation has been the home of charitable Long Islanders who share a passion and commitment to improve their communities. LICF supports an array of effective nonprofits that help make Long Island a vital and secure place to live, learn, work, and play, while building permanent resources for the future. The Foundation has made more than $150 million in grants from hundreds of funds established by individuals, families, and businesses. LICF is a division of The New York Community Trust, one of the country’s oldest and largest community foundations. To learn more about LICF, go to www.licf.org.

About the Center for Popular Democracy:

CPD works to create equity, opportunity and a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact base-building organizations, organizing alliances, and progressive unions. CPD strengthens our collective capacity to envision and win an innovative pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial and economic justice agenda. For more information, go to www.populardemocracy.org.