City Council must step up affordable prices

Despite the efforts of the Community Housing Fund Advisory Board and the Community Housing Fund to disseminate information about the November 8 transfer tax referendum, it is apparent that some voters are not getting the information they seek.

Former city councilor Albert Dickson highlighted the problem during the August 9 business session when he warned that there would be voters who would reject the November 8 referendum on the use of the Peconic Bay Community Housing Fund created by the state to raise funds for affordable housing. They would, he said, not because they oppose affordable housing, but because they don’t get their questions answered by their elected officials.

Both committees disseminate clear information, but not everyone has time to follow several meetings. Many want to hear the city council’s answers.

There is no doubt that certain advertisements have confused the tracks. A lot of accurate information was disseminated through announcements and stories about committee meetings. But some inaccurate or unclear information has appeared in some advertisements.

We do not blame the city council for not wanting to respond to announcements. But right now, there are probably few people who don’t know the legitimate questions that cause confusion:

• How many accommodations are envisaged on the island? You may not have the full answer, but you know it’s not about hundreds of units.

• How would those who would obtain the rental or purchase of units be chosen?

• Where could these accommodations be located? You may not have all the specific sites, but you know these would be on city-owned land or in existing private homes or accessory buildings where owners may need financial assistance to provide safe and affordable rental apartments.

• What would the newly constructed buildings look like? You know there have been sketches of rental and sale units by volunteers Michael Shatken and Matt Sherman that aren’t huge brick apartment buildings more suited to urban areas.

There are a lot more questions and answers, and voters want to hear the answers from those who make the final decisions—the elected officials.

It’s time for the city council to put aside bruised egos and schedule a citywide meeting, not to argue but to answer legitimate questions clearly.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (D-Sag Harbor), who drafted the legislation, said millions of dollars could have been banked for East End affordability, but they were lost due to delays. An informed vote is needed in November.

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