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Affordable housing on Long Island: Local group eyes path forward

Jimmy Coughlan speaking at Minority Millennials meeting

An advocacy group focused on promoting affordable housing, particularly for young Long Islanders, is betting that improving housing options starts with directing infrastructure grants toward marginalized communities.

Minority Millennials, a nonprofit based in North Amityville, plans to focus on the goal of infrastructure investment as it creates a separate 501(c)(4) organization to lobby state elected officials, founder and president Dan Lloyd said. Attendees discussed investments in infrastructure, such as roads, sewers and street lighting in areas that might otherwise be overlooked for housing development. Lloyd said the event aimed to generate ideas for the group's lobbying priorities

The plan came out of a session Thursday night at Hofstra University’s ideaHUb, where the nonprofit convened leaders from the advocacy, government and business sectors to discuss affordable housing solutions. At the end of the event, a few dozen attendees used a whiteboard to brainstorm and vote on their favored solution to affordable housing. They landed on an idea to “concentrate infrastructure grants in marginalized communities.”

“That will be the underlying foundation when we’re going to be drafting legislation” as the organization develops a multifaceted agenda, said Dan Lloyd, founder and president of Minority Millennials.

More than 300,000 Long Island households are cost-burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing, according to an October 2020 report from the Regional Plan Association.

Speakers discussed the obstacles to building more housing including financing the projects, navigating local zoning rules and getting community support for projects that would add apartments and attract new residents.

“Unfortunately, the narrative around housing is primarily dictated by NIMBYism, not in my backyard,” said Kiana Abbady, a board member of the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

The infrastructure proposal came out of a session led by entrepreneur and real estate investor Ani Sanyal, whose workshop Thursday at Hofstra is part of a series called Idea Exchange.

“We can’t do most of our projects without some sort of infrastructure support, and I think there are blatantly communities that need the infrastructure support more than others,” said Jimmy Coughlan, vice president of development at Tritec, an East Setauket-based real estate company, which specializes in development and construction. Tritec has developed about 90 projects in the metro areas around New York City and Washington D.C. Coughlan said Tritec is focused on transit-oriented, mixed-use development that includes a combination of affordable housing and market-rate housing. It has completed projects in Ronkonkoma, Lindenhurst and Patchogue among other areas.

“Our goal as an organization is to provide housing, particularly for young people to keep them on Long Island, that allows people to walk to work or the grocery store in a semi-urban environment that they want to live in,” Coughlan said.

Read the full article in Newsday.