Solving Long Island’s housing problem


We have seen how a global pandemic has made local housing prices surge to levels that make them unaffordable for many disheartened house hunters on Long Island. While the housing market is starting to return to pre-Covid levels, an average price is still out of reach for most young adults starting their careers, single-income households, and older residents looking to downsize. Long Island has also been plagued by a lack of home inventory, which for many has turned the American dream into a dream deferred.

As the Assembly member in District 18, I have heard my constituents’ cries for more housing. While we search for solutions to ensure a pathway to homeownership, we need to do this the right way so that our present planning is not a setup for future failures.

Ideally, the housing plan should include partnerships with our local municipalities and school districts so we have a thorough understanding of what type and volume of housing we can comfortably support without straining our already strained infrastructure. We should also protect the integrity of our communities and the landscape of our suburbs. After all, part of why we live here is because we value space, fresh air, and effective teacher-to-student ratios.

It’s difficult for young adults to leave the comfort of their parents’ homes because of the housing problem we face. We need inventory so our children have options when it comes to moving out of our homes and into their own. This will help them grow as individuals and productive contributors to society.

We need inventory for our seniors to have options when it comes to downsizing when the homes in which they have reared their families — and in which they have created so many memories — no longer meet their needs. But it has to make economic sense for them. They should be able to age in place, in the community they have invested in for so many years. They should be able to stay close to their families instead of having to moving away. We want to keep families together and here on the Island.

I propose a Pathway to Home Ownership, a program that incorporates smart solutions with a multi-pronged approach. This includes creating micro apartments for young adults to serve as starter dwellings. They will then be able to work with home-ownership programs to get wise counsel on saving money, building credit, and becoming mortgage-ready so they are well positioned to purchase in the future.

Another aspect of the Pathway to Home Ownership program would answer the need of Long Islanders ready to purchase a second property to build generational wealth. Real estate has long been used to build wealth, and studies show it is more consistent than other asset classes. Homeowners often buy second properties and rent them out to tenants who may not want to purchase or may not be able to. This pathway would also aggressively target zombie and abandoned homes with enforceable policies across the Island so that all inventory is accounted for and up to code.

The final part of the program would target our golden Long Islanders who would like to downsize, creating an inventory of available larger homes for new families. We would need to create affordable cottages or other comfortable housing options for our seniors to transition into, equipped with all they need to keep them safe. This pathway would be smothered in support from counselors and housing/financial professionals to assist everyone at every phase. If you look at the model of assistance created by the New York Small Business Development Center, you will see how this level of guidance, training and hand-holding could help.

I want to bring various stakeholders to the table to get this done. It is going to take government, communities, non-governmental organizations, schools and more to help solve the housing problems on Long Island. Partners in the faith-based community who have or want to improve neighborhoods by building housing is just one avenue worth exploring. We are currently working on the Faith-Based Affordable Housing Act in the State Legislature. If you believe New York needs faith housing, you can contact your state elected officials to urge them to pass Assembly Bill A8386 and Senate Bill S7791.

Taylor Darling represents the 18th Assembly District.