In recent weeks the Southampton Town Board has been considering legislation which will set guidelines for development of workforce-affordable housing in the town. Town Supervisor Skip Heaney has referred to proposals by his fellow Republican council member Linda Kabot as 'socialism'. Despite this the remaining members of the board appear to have reached a consensus across party lines that could at last bring affordable housing to Southampton.
There is general acknowledgment that lower cost housing is needed so that the younger generation will be able to stay in the area. However public reaction has been divided with political activists such as the Southampton Housing Coalition in favor and community groups "west of the canal" saying the housing is needed but the burden should not be placed in one geographical area.
Nevertheless housing advocate Michael O'Neill says "we are beginning to glimpse the shape of a new understanding forming of seemingly opposed views". In a letter to housing advocates, O'Neill wrote "We hope your participation will move forward the agenda of effective advocacy for affordable housing ... and join in building a stronger coalition to establish support for the board's efforts to make affordable housing a reality in Southampton. We know there are thousands of residents who support mechanisms to assure the building of affordable housing."
O'Neill wrote that mobilizing overworked citizens "to organize behind their self-interest ..could be a formidable political force that could easily stand toe to toe with the well-heeled and politically connected opponents whose task is only the rear-guard action of preserving the status quo, of enforcing people's doubts, of preying on people's fears."
The Southampton Housing coalition will meet Thursday, April 14th, 6:30 pm at Southampton United Methodist Church 160 No. Main St. First time attendees will be especially welcomed.
In addition the South Fork Coalition of the Long Island Progressive Coalition has been active in developing ideas for and promoting affordable housing in East Hampton and Southampton. They meet next on Tuesday April 12 at 6:30pm at the Lutheran Church at Hayground Road and Route 27 in Water Mill.
The Southampton Town Board will next meet on Tuesday April 12 at 1 pm and April 27 at 7pm. No agendas are published for these meetings yet. See http://www.town.southampton.ny.us/agendas_and_psas.ihtml