Southampton Town and Long Island Housing Partnership officials gathered in Flanders last Thursday morning, May 30, to break ground on the first of 11 subsidized homes that will be sold to first-time home buyers chosen by lottery last fall.
“We are just so overjoyed,” Michelle Cannon, chairwoman of the Southampton Town Housing Authority, said during the ceremony.
She and members of the Southampton Town Board stressed the importance of developing affordable housing, given the area’s high real estate values, the economic downturn and the socio-economic composition of the town. Six additional houses will be built in Flanders, two in East Quogue, and one each in Noyac and North Sea. The properties were seized for nonpayment of taxes and donated by Suffolk County to the town for the development of affordable housing.
“It’s not easy to support, build and develop affordable housing—there are a lot of hurdles in doing that,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said. “It seems like an easy thing, but it’s not.”
The officials dug ceremonial gold shovels into the ground at the Flanders property off Brookhaven Avenue, which will be sold to Rich Lalomia, a budget assistant for the town comptroller, who currently lives in Hampton Bays. “It’s great to see it come to fruition,” he said.
His number was pulled during a lottery drawing last September, giving him first dibs on one of the subsidized three-bedroom homes. The Housing Authority secured a $40,000 grant from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal Program for each home, which, paired with bargain construction costs, brings the total cost to each new owner to about $152,000.
The buyers had to qualify for a mortgage, aided by the Long Island Housing Partnership, which also offers homeowner counseling. They also had to be first-time homeowners and demonstrate that their income fell within a certain restricted range. The monthly mortgage payment for the houses will be about $1,300, including property taxes.
John and Laura Cangemi, owners of Manzi Homes East, the Rocky Point building firm that the town contracted to construct the houses, said the first should be complete in about six months—or sooner. They said they hope to break ground on the others in the next few months, once they receive final approval.
“We enjoy doing it,” Ms. Cangemi said. “It’s fun building anyone’s home, but this is really nice, because giving someone a home who otherwise wouldn’t have had one is tremendous.”
Mr. Cangemi added that the company has worked on other affordable home projects in the past. “We get a lot of satisfaction out of it,” he said.
Mr. Lalomia’s home will be a two-story cape designed by architect Jeffrey Butler of Riverhead. The future owners are able to chose from an slew of siding and roofing color choices, Ms. Cangemi added. The homes will boast basements, tile and hardwood floors, appliances, carpeting and the owner’s choice of decorative dormers or landscaping.
“I couldn’t be more proud to be a liaison to this group of people because you all are offering something to the community that is critical to our people,” Town Board member Bridget Fleming said, thanking the officials from the Housing Authority and Long Island Housing Partnership for their hard work.
Ms. Cannon was joined by Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Blowes, Vice Chairwoman Barbara Fair, Director Curtis Highsmith, Secretary Steve Kenny and other staff. Long Island Housing Partnership President Peter Elkowitz Jr., Senior Vice President James Britz and Assistant Vice President Joseph Sanseverino were also present.
“A heartfelt thank you to you, and to all of the board members,” Ms. Throne-Holst said to Ms. Cannon. “We are very fortunate to have all of you. I think it is without a doubt the most dedicated and devoted board that this Housing Authority has had, certainly to my knowledge, and this is the fruit of those labors.”
The town has sold subsidized homes twice prior to the most recent batch, once in 1993, when about 30 single-family homes were built in East Quogue, and again in 2005, when eight homes were sold in Bridgehampton. Three years ago, the town dissolved its Housing Department and handed over the responsibility of developing affordable housing to the semi-independent Housing Authority.