More than a dozen supporters, organized by the Massapequa-based Long Island Progressive Coalition (LIPC), chanted “Yes In My Backyard” in support of the Avalon Bay development planned for Huntington Station amid a pro-affordable housing rally at Huntington Town Hall on Saturday.
LIPC’s YIMBY campaign, as it’s called, aims to counteract those who tend to be opposed to developments in their communities, a sentiment commonly referred to as NIMBYism, or Not In My Backyard. The Avalon Bay project is a proposal for more than 500 mixed residential units—a quarter of them affordable housing—within walking distance of the Long Island Railroad’s Huntington station.
“The lack of affordable housing on Long Island is forcing members of our generation to leave the island,” said Maritza Silva-Farrell, the rally’s organizer. “We are tired of finding our only affordable rental option to be a basement apartment. We need affordable rental apartments as we build our careers and set down our roots.”
The shortage of rental properties on Long Island has long be known to contribute to what has been dubbed “The Brain Drain,” in which the region’s college graduates move to New York City or out of state in search of a place to live within their means while earning an entry-level salary. There has been a 35-percent decline in the number of people between the ages of 25-34 on LI, according to a 2008 report by the Long Island Index.
“I think it really speak to what the need is on Long Island,” said Christopher Capece, development director for the Long Island region at Avalon Bay. The firm owns 2,000 units in eight communities. The most recent one to open is Avalon at Charles Pond in Coram. Avalon also has plans in the works for similar developments in Rockville Centre and Mitchell Field.
“We have been working with Avalon Bay to refine their plans,” said A.J. Carter, Huntington town spokesman, who added that the town supports the project, which was proposed last year.
“Long Island cannot afford to lose any more of its best and brightest due to the inability of our Towns to provide affordable housing,” said Jay Goldman, a local young professional who was at the rally. “We want to stay.”