“This was just woods,” Maureen Murphy, the executive director of the East Hampton Housing Authority, said. She was referring to the Accabonac Apartments, a 50-unit project that opened in 1999, a year after Ms. Murphy joined the agency. Now, Ms. Murphy is retiring from the post. “It’s enough,” she said. “It’s time.”
When Ms. Murphy left her teaching position at Brooklyn College’s School of Education and headed east to Montauk, she was appointed to the authority. “There was just Avallone then,” she said, of the Avallone Apartments in Montauk, a 17-unit complex that was opened by the town in 1993.
Ms. Murphy served as the chairwoman of the housing board from 1998 to 2000, and then became the executive director. In that time, available subsidized housing has grown from the original 17 units to include the 50 units at Accabonac and an additional 24 at the most recently opened Springs Fireplace Apartments. For the most part, the apartments are intended for older citizens and some families in the middle income range.
The East Hampton Housing Authority works with East Hampton Town, but is a separate entity. The group receives federal subsidies, but Ms. Murphy said, “It’s very difficult to buy land. We don’t have that much money.”
Ms. Murphy expressed her gratitude to others on the housing board, mentioning Helen Fitzgerald, who died last month. “I’ll miss Helen,” she said. She also reminisced about some tenants “who have been with us from the beginning,” recalling one woman — who recently left the complex to live with her daughter — “driving around here and looking when this was nothing but dirt.”
“We work hard,” she said with a bit of pride in her voice. “This could easily turn into a slum, but we do whatever it takes to keep the property looking clean and landscaped.”
When asked about her retirement, Ms. Murphy smiled. “I’m of a certain age,” she said. If she could wave a magic wand, Ms. Murphy would love to see some land donated to the authority so it could increase available housing.
“There are still people here who need housing,” she said. “It would be so nice if someone donated a sizable piece of property that we could develop.”