Evictions stir a torrent of words

Southampton Town officials recently evicted 70 Latino tenants from four buildings built as single family residences.  The Town says ovens were used for heating and that there were no escape routes from basement apartments.  Landlords were collecting high rents, as much as  $800 per month for each tennant with several in each house.

Bob Schepps, President of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce has this commentary on the evictions and Southampton zoning and housing laws:

The present remedy for over crowded housing in our town is to simply evict tenants who must
then find alternative housing in an area where affordable housing does not exist.

The rental housing law will have little consequence to landlords who protect themselves using the cover of corporations and leases that hold the landlord harmless while they collect high rents.

The real estate agents get fees for finding these properties. There is no legal consequence to them.

In New Jersey exclusionary zoning has been outlawed. Every area is assessed and a number for affordable units must be met within time limits. Publicly preserved or owned lands can be seized to meet those needs. Court-appointed "masters" decide what remedies should be built to facilitate the creation of affordable housing in the form of apartment buildings multifamily dwellings and even trailer parks.

Southampton's zoning and new rental laws are exclusionary. They do not create an pportunity for affordable housing to be built by the market. They will make many, including those born and raised here, illegal residents in their own neighborhoods.

I call on interested parties and organizations in our Town, County and State to bring a lawsuit which will declare these laws discriminatory and therefore unconstitutional.

Our tourism-based economy operates with a low income workforce. If we are to continue to sustain a viable economy we must provide A real opportunity for affordable living spaces.

Commentary prepared for WPKN /WPKM News 6:30pm, March 14, 2008

Here is another take on the situation by Lisa Votino-Tarrant, a community organizer and member of the Southampton Anti-Bias Task Force.

Ms. Votino-Tarrant's essay and 20 comments from the Long Island Wins blog