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December 2013 | Grants Newsletter

Solving a Rental Crisis

Suburbanites who struggle to find affordable rentals now have confirmation of what they suspected: Long Island has far fewer rentals than other areas around New York City, and fewer than 5% are vacant. Despite high demand, the Island is building townhouses and apartments slower than nearby suburbs. Rents have increased far more than incomes, undermining Nassau and Suffolk counties’ efforts to attract young workers and professionals starting careers.

Those are findings of a study by the Regional Plan Association and Long Island Affordable and Fair Housing Initiative Advisory Group, supported by an $86,000 grant from the Long Island Community Foundation, a division of The Trust. Other key findings:

  • 56% of Long Island renters pay more than 30% of their income for housing.
  • 55% of 20- to 34-year-olds live with parents or other older relatives.
  • The Hudson Valley, northern New Jersey, and southwestern Connecticut have two-and-a-half times more available rental homes per household than Long Island.
The study found a major obstacle: Zoning regulations often prevent construction of residential buildings on small lots in tightly packed neighborhoods near train stations, where they’d benefit the most people and take away the least green space.

Of course, the affordable housing crisis isn’t just in the suburbs. To address the problem in the City, The Trust helps groups to stabilize management and improve conditions of affordable housing; build or convert space into new apartments; support developers of such housing; and push for equitable housing policies.

Recent grants include $40,000 to Picture the Homeless, a group founded by the homeless, for research and advocacy to convert foreclosed and vacant properties into housing for the poor. Grants of $65,000 each to Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, a coalition of nearly 100 neighborhood housing groups, and Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, a tenant advocacy group, help promote the transfer of apartment buildings in foreclosure to responsible owners.

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