Letter: The youth cannot afford to live on Long Island

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:

Swaying in the wind, their presence hides an escalating problem that virtually affects us all.

Once the symbol of upward mobility and a promising future, real estate signs on front lawns in many cases signify another casualty inflicted by the high cost of living on Long Island. 

Change is inevitable, we are told. That often overused phrase has more meaning now than ever before. For many, the suburban lifestyle that we have grown accustomed to is slipping away, not by choice but for economic reasons.

Surveys in the past, taken by Nassau and Suffolk residents asking if they planned to continue living here, showed the desire to exit is increasing dramatically. It should come as no surprise that many residents plan to leave the island. The cost of buying a home or renting one on Long Island has become exceedingly high and beyond the reach of many who would continue to live here, if they simply could afford to.

For many, living here is no longer feasible. The cost of owning and maintaining a home has become such a financial burden that the only realistic alternative is to relocate off the island.

Affordable housing has become a serious issue that continues to threaten the demographic profile of both Nassau and Suffolk counties. For many, the dream of owning a home and raising a family here has become just that: a dream.

A growing number of residents in the 18- to 24-year old demographic profile are either moving or are planning to leave the island, primarily for economic reasons. Although this is alarming, the fact remains that little is being done to retain this segment of our population. As a result, the demographic profile of our island will shift in favor of older, established residents, who can somewhat better handle the financial drain of living here.

This precarious situation is quite problematic as the status-quo of our island is undermined as this transition progresses. The void left behind by our newly evolving social landscape will not easily be filled. This is in stark contrast to an island that was a prime destination for countless young adults who wished to stay here and maintained a quality lifestyle.

As more and more residents are forced to vacate their homes, a sense of despair takes hold. Like characters from John Steinbeck’s ‘ Grapes of Wrath’, families are exiting Long Island in search of a better and most importantly, affordable lives.

Jason Hill, RIDGE