05/26/13 12:00pm
05/26/2013 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Summerwind Square apartment and retail complex on Peconic Avenue in Riverhead as it appeared Tuesday.L

In the Long Island Housing Partnership’s recent lottery for the 52-unit Summerwind Square apartments in Riverhead, only 22 applications were submitted, 17 of them from people living or working in Riverhead, according to LIHP senior vice president James Britz.

Mr. Britz said the May 8 lottery determined the order of preference for the 17 Riverhead residents first, followed by the five non-Riverhead residents. Those applicants will now be screened to make sure they meet eligibility requirements for the Peconic Avenue project, he said.

After that, he said, the remaining apartments will be rented on a first-come, first-served basis with no residency preference, so long as the applicants meet income requirements, until the 52 units are filled.

The Riverhead Town Board in February passed a resolution to “support” a 75 percent preference for applicants who live or work in town, but Supervisor Sean Walter said he’s uncertain if that resolution has any weight or is just an expression of support.

All lottery participants had to pay a $100 application fee to the LIHP and a $50 safe rent fee to Eastern Property Investor Consultants, which owns the project.

“I assumed that the lottery would be full, and that you’d have a packed house and about 100 applicants for 52 apartments,” Mr. Walter said. “But I also wasn’t aware that the cost to apply was so much. Maybe that dissuaded people from applying.”

He said he thought 75 percent of the occupancy would be town residents or employees.

The LIHP did say in the Summerwind application forms that applications received after May 1 “would be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis after lottery applicants have been assisted.”

The lottery gave preference to people living or working in Riverhead Town or the Riverhead School District, Mr. Britz said.

Applicants must also meet income guidelines based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s area mean income for Nassau-Suffolk, which would be $74,125 for one household. Twenty-six apartments will be rented to tenants with household incomes of up to 80 percent of AMI ($59,300). Monthly rents at this income level will be $905 for an efficiency and $1,042 for a one-bedroom. Twenty-three apartments are for households making between 80 and 100 percent of AMI, Mr. Britz said. Monthly rents for these units are $1,137 for an efficiency and $1,300 for a one bedroom. Three apartments, all two-bedroom, will be available to households making between 100 and 120 percent of AMI, he said. These will rent for $1,559 per month.

One-bedroom units range from 635 square feet to 720 square feet, the two-bedroom units are 865 square feet, and studio apartments range from 365 square feet to 475 square feet, according to the LIHP.

tgannon@timesreview.com

10/14/12 10:00am
10/14/2012 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | This Flanders Boulevard property has been abandoned for several years. It is one of seven in Flanders that have been seized by Suffolk County and given to Southampton Town for affordable housing efforts.

Flanders resident Suzane Fialho glanced over at the vacant lot next to her parents’ home. The ranch-style house, abandoned and decaying, was covered in vegetation and a tree limb had fallen onto its roof. Weeds and trees had taken over the lawn and a long green vine reached through an open window into what was likely the living room.

Ms. Fialho said her family moved to the neighborhood four years ago and watched as the property went to ruin.

“We had neighbors before who just didn’t care,” she said.

Now, through a Southampton Town affordable housing program, a new building will soon rise on the property, as well as six others in Flanders. The work should be completed by next summer.

“I think cleaning up the neighborhood would be nice,” Ms. Fialho said.

The affordable housing project, developed by the town housing authority and the Long Island Housing Partnership, a nonprofit housing developer, using land seized by Suffolk County, will turn seven Flanders properties into three-bedroom, two-bath homes for lower- to middle-income, first-time homebuyers, officials said.

“Everything is ready basically to get the shovels in the ground,” said James Britz, senior vice president of the Long Island Housing Partnership.

The 1,300- to 1,400-square-foot homes will cost $153,000 to purchase and will be built by a private contractor. The seven properties are on Maple, Oak and Brookhaven avenues and Flanders Boulevard, Mr. Britz said. The houses should be completed by next summer.

The Sept. 13 lottery for the properties gave first preference to veterans, though none took advantage of the offer, officials said. Residents of Southampton or those who work in the town were next in line before the lottery was opened to the general public.

Of the 55 people who signed up, 11 were chosen for the seven Flanders lots and other properties available in Southampton Town, officials said. The lottery winners will need to meet several requirements, such as having a steady income and the ability to secure a mortgage.

Five additional lots in Riverside have already been given to the town by Suffolk County already, but Long Island Housing Partnership officials said they don’t know when those properties would be available through lottery.

Southampton Town Housing Authority executive director Richard Blowes could not be reached for comment.

Most of the properties were made available through Suffolk County’s 72H program, which converts lots that were seized for tax violations into space for affordable housing.

“Every once in a while there’s a lot that could be used for a municipal purpose, including for affordable housing, as a way for the towns to address the shortage of places for people to live in the community,” said county Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).

The affordable housing was available to those who make between 80 and 120 percent of the median income, Mr. Schneiderman said. Though town officials could not be reached to provide the exact figure being used for the program, 2010 U.S. Census data shows the median income for the area was $81,250 per household in that year.

The eligibility extends above the median income because of high housing prices in Southampton Town, Mr. Schneiderman said.

“In the economy we’ve seen through the last few years, even making above the median income you still could not buy a house,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If you’re priced out of the housing market, [the program] should apply to you.”

But Mr. Schneiderman hinted that tighter budget constraints may force the county to stop the program in the future.

“There’s been some talk recently about suspending the program because the county is so broke we can’t give things away,” he said. “I’m hopeful that it’ll continue.”

Vince Taldone, vice president of the Flanders Riverside Northampton Community Association, whose members have worked with the housing authority on past programs, said some residents disagreed with the town when officials first proposed using some of the lots for rentals. The town later scrapped those plans.

“Bringing in affordable home ownership was what everyone wanted,” Mr. Taldone said. “We want to have people who are fully invested in the neighborhood.”

Lottery winners, none of whom could be reached for comment, will also receive a landscaping stipend that lets them pick and pay for shrubs or flowers to decorate their yards to enhance the curb appeal of the neighborhood, he said.

Cesar Umana, a former Southold resident who moved six months ago to Flanders, which is a racially and ethnically diverse community, described the neighborhood as “a little different” than less-diverse Southold.

He believes the affordable housing will help the area by increasing the tax rolls.

“It definitely can build up some revenue,” he said.

Another resident down the road, who asked to remain anonymous, said he doesn’t care whether the housing is affordable or not, so long as the homeowners are good people.

“Black, white, Spanish, it don’t matter,” he said. “We got a mix of people around here … It’s not the house, it’s the people who live there.”

psquire@timesreview.com