Uniondale housing symposium spotlights housing resources


The Uniondale Land Trust hosted its third annual Housing Symposium last Friday, April 19 at the Van Ness fire station in Uniondale.

The symposium focused on the question: whether or not owning a home in 2024 is still a realistic goal for Uniondale residents or just a pipe dream at this point. The symposium aimed to bridge the gap between the information regarding the resources available and the Uniondale residents looking to use these resources to own an affordable home in the area.

Bringing together experts, homeowners, renters, and policymakers — including Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe, a staunch advocate for affordable housing solutions — to address the pressing challenges and explore potential resources like housing vouchers and other affordable solutions related to housing in the region.

“Throughout my adult life, advocating for affordable housing solutions has been my passion, and I have pursued it in the Legislature by securing bipartisan support for establishing the Land Bank in 2015 and other County-level initiatives to eliminate barriers to home ownership,” said Bynoe, who spoke to the crowd on Friday.

Attendees were actively engaged in the session, posing thoughtful questions to the experts paneling and gaining valuable clarity on navigating through the complexities of the housing landscape on Long Island.

One of the sobering realities discussed at the symposium was the gradual erosion of homeownership opportunities for everyday Americans, and believes systemic factors have been at play for a long time leading to the crisis of a housing market many find themselves in now.

“Systems do what they are built to do,” said panelist Ian Wilder of the Long Island Housing Services. “So if they are not helping people, and mainly a certain type of people — then it is because it wasn’t meant to.”

Wilder believes that although housing discrimination is a very real reality for many Black and Brown Americans, things have now gotten to a place where nobody, regardless of race, will have an easy time accessing homeownership — especially for those who were already discriminated against before.

Wilder and the other experts also pointed out how homeownership has slowly been slipping away from the hands of everyday Americans for years now — with foreclosures increasing throughout all of the state since the pandemic started in 2020, with both Nassau and Suffolk counties having earned the distinctions of being two of the the counties with the highest number of foreclosures — with 1,546 foreclosure filings happening just last year in Nassau alone, with over 400 of which being in Uniondale.

It was also revealed at the symposium that despite the recommendation of not spending more than 30 percent on rent, most residents are forced to spend upwards of 60 percent and more on rent each month, leaving many in the community “rent-burdened.”

“When all of these elements come together,” said Jeannine Maynard, co-facilitator of the Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition. “Then we can look at what exists in our legislation and in our funding streams and then put a critical eye on what is missing and what needs to be solved,” said Maynard, “it is all about figuring out what we can do to meet the community’s needs.

“When we invite people from different walks of life, whether residents or government agencies, you can learn about things that you may have missed in notices from the state, county and even the federal government,” said Maynard. “When we host events like the symposium, it allows us to do a better job helping our community when we share this information and strengthen our network of sharing that information.”