Featured Letter: ‘Brain drain’ solutions not so simple

05/01/2014 7:00 AM |

This Riverhead house in foreclosure was scheduled to be sold on the steps of Town Hall in 2010. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

This Riverhead house in foreclosure was scheduled to be sold on the steps of Town Hall in 2010. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)


To the editor:

Re: Jason Hill’s recent letter to the editor regarding Long Island’s affordable housing.

I write regularly on Long Island’s land use issues, with my work appearing in Long Island Business News, Newsday and various other publications. I have a bachelor’s degree from Fordham in both urban studies and political science and a master’s degree in public policy, where I studied urban planning with Dr. Lee Koppelman, Long Island’s veteran planner. 

Mr. Hill’s letter alludes to the “brain drain,” the concept that our region is hemorrhaging young adults. In the urban planning community, statisticians and demographers don’t see the dip as the result of poor policy, but rather a pre-existing demographic dip in local birthrates. As the saying goes, how can people leave Long Island if they weren’t born in the first place?

The cost of living on Long Island is high, but to craft affordable housing policy on such a shaky concept is poor planning. Mr. Hill is correct in saying that affordable housing has become a serious issue, but the “brain drain” justification does not do our housing issue justice.

I think it’s time we start to wholly understand our region’s changing demographics and stop basing our large-scale policy recommendations on a foundation of faulty generalizations, stakeholder bias and a flawed understanding of Long Island’s woes. It’s time to put an end to the generalizations and start to give these complex problems the complex solutions they deserve.

Rich Murdocco, Syosset