Housing Costs Here a ‘Great Burden’

Housing in East Hampton is more expensive than in any other East End town and more out of reach for working people, a housing committee reported to the East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday.

While median home prices here have risen 215 percent since 1999, the median family income here has risen only 43 percent, it was reported. Compared to most other areas of the East End and Suffolk County, more homeowners and renters here are “greatly burdened” by housing costs.

Using data from the 2010 census as well as from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and other sources, a newly reconstituted Community Housing Opportunity Fund committee is working to update a plan for the creation of affordable housing in East Hampton. The first step, committee members said during their presentation, was to get a handle on available housing, its cost, and affordability.

Sixty percent of housing here is occupied seasonally rather than by year-round residents. Last year, according to Suffolk Research Services, the median price of a house was $907,000 — almost 13 times greater than the annual median household income of $74,895.

That figure is lower than the median elsewhere on Long Island. According to H.U.D. estimates, the 2014 median household income in Nassau and Suffolk Counties is $105,125 for a family of four. In East Hampton Town, 25 percent of households earn less than half of that. Among households that rent, 45 percent earn less than half the Nassau-Suffolk figure.

The total number of housing units in East Hampton Town, which includes a section of Sag Harbor, rose between 1990 and 2010 from 17,068 to 21,038, although the numbers declined in Sag Harbor and in Montauk, where there were 149 fewer housing units in 2010 than two decades earlier.

However, if future development is consistent with current zoning, the town could see a 13-percent increase in the number of existing housing units, the committee reported.

There are three times more owner-occupied housing units than rental units, the committee found. Rental units are distributed unevenly throughout the town, with the majority in a neighborhood defined as “East Hampton North,” followed by Springs and Montauk.

In general, said Eric Schantz, a committee member and town planner, “the demographics vary very, very widely,” among the various hamlets. Springs, the report notes, has a “significantly larger” average household size among both its rented and owner-occupied houses.

Records of housing code violations “provide some insight” into substandard housing conditions here, the committee reported. Nearly half the cases handled by the ordinance enforcement department between 2011 and 2013 involving housing violations, 281 out of 566 cases, involved property in Springs, the records show.

Based on a burgeoning Springs School population, “We really would not be recommending any significant affordable housing in Springs,” Job Potter, the housing committee chairman, told the board.

The committee will continue with an analysis of factors such as real estate assessed value, tax rates, and school taxes in order to help the board decide where best to locate affordable housing in the future.