New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli told a crowd of nearly 100 bankers, realtors and others involved in Westchester’s real estate industry that despite a rebounding real estate market, its becoming harder and harder for some New Yorkers to afford a home. DiNapoli cited a report he released in March that found that more than half of renters and more than a third of homeowners in the state are paying at least 30 percent of their incomes for housing. The federal government describes housing costs above 30 percent of household income as unaffordable.

 

DiNapoli also referred to a study written by CHI Executive Director Alexander Roberts earlier  in the year that found that younger workers are leaving Westchester and Long Island in droves, with the highest exodus coming in the region’s most exclusive communities.

The CHI report, “Richest Communities on Long Island and in Westchester Experiencing Demographic Collapse of Young Adult Workforce, ” found that since 2000 the Village of Kings Point has lost 58 percent of its 25-34 year olds, Westhampton 57 percent and Oyster Bay 51 percent. The Village of Scarsdale in Westchester County has seen its population of 25 to 34 year olds decline by 52 percent.  Rye has lost 63 percent and New Castle 40 percent.

“This raises serious concerns about the future sustainability of these communities,” DiNapoli said.

The Comptroller maintained that housing supply is a key influencer of affordability. He also noted that while local zoning can be an impediment to the development of multifamily housing, the approval process does provide developers and advocates an opportunity to build community support. “Those promoting sustainable communities, the clergy and local businesses have all been advocates of downtown housing developments in Great Neck Plaza on Long Island, where I live,” he said.

In introducing Comptroller DiNapoli, Roberts said that local zoning contributes to rising housing costs in the region. He claimed that existing zoning that favors the construction of single-family homes prevents the development of multifamily housing, thereby restricting housing supply.

 

Also speaking at the event was Deborah Post, CHI’s senior director for housing development and finance, who talked about the agency’s programs that make homeownership more affordable for middle-income families. The linchpin of CHI’s homeownership offerings is the “Renters into Owners Program,” which provides income-eligible first-time buyers grants of up to $25,000 for down payments and home improvements.

Post urged those in attendance to help publicize the availability of these grants. “We do have irons in the fire as it relates to housing development, but CHI is also offering programs right now that can make homeownership affordable for many more families,” she said.

CHI would like to thank the sponsors of the May 19 breakfast at Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown: Continental Home Loans; O’Connor Davies, LLP; People’s United Bank; Benchmark Title Agency, LLC; Cannon Heyman and Weiss, LLP; Community National Bank; M&T Bank; Mortgage Master; and Total Management Corp.

See press coverage of the May 19 corporate breakfast featuring New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli:

Westchester Today from Westchester Magazine, by Matthew Gisin and Byron Kittle, May21, 2014: read the story.

Daily Voice, by Danny LoPriore, May 19, 2014: read the story and see the video.