Assemblyman Ramos: Long Island Workforce Housing Program Established by Assembly

June 4, 2008
A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Philip Ramos (D-Central Islip) to establish the Long Island Workforce Housing program passed the Assembly (A.9881-A).

Under the legislation, when a developer makes an application to a local government to build five or more residential units in Suffolk, the local government will require them to set aside at least 10 percent of those units for affordable workforce housing – a designation that includes individuals or families at or below 130 percent of Long Island’s median income.

Ramos said the region’s high housing costs are driving young people away from Long Island. Since 1990, Nassau and Suffolk counties have experienced a 35 percent decrease in the number of 25- to 34-year-old residents. A 2006 Long Island Index survey found that more than half of this age group had recently considered leaving Long Island, with an astounding 70 percent saying they’re likely to leave within five years.

“This tumultuous demographic shift presents a serious threat to Long Island’s regional economy,” Ramos said. “Many employers who are confronted by a rapidly shrinking workforce are now having difficulty finding qualified employees.”

Since 2000, Long Island’s affordability gap has only gotten worse, as evidenced by data recently released in the 2008 Long Island Index. Median home values on Long Island more than doubled in just six years, from $213,000 in 2000 to $474,000 in 2006. But the sharp decline in home prices nationally in 2007 has had a negligible effect on Long Island, with the median closing price in December 2007 still at a whopping $425,000.

Ramos said the development of affordable housing is especially important in Suffolk County. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Brentwood has the second highest number of sub-prime loans in the state – with nearly 1,800 sub-prime loans and a 12.4 percent foreclosure rate. In Bay Shore, there are nearly 1,500 sub-prime loans and a foreclosure rate of 11.3 percent. Something must be done to remedy this growing problem.

“Owning a home is a goal that is simply out of reach for many Long Islanders, particularly for young working people and those now entering the workforce,” Ramos said. “The region’s economy will continue to suffer unless meaningful actions are taken to ensure that Long Island communities remain strong – and that the economy has the workforce it needs to drive future prosperity.”