Assemblyman Ramos: There’s No Place Like Home – But Unfortunately, Too Many Long Islanders Can’t Afford One

July 18, 2003
There is no doubt the housing crisis on Long Island is getting out of hand. There are thousands of working families struggling to make ends meet, unable to afford skyrocketing rent, mortgage rates and property taxes. Working families deserve to experience the satisfaction of owning their own homes – it should not be an unattainable goal.

A recent study released by the New York State AFL-CIO makes this problem even more apparent. The census bureau found that a person can comfortably afford to spend, at most, 30 percent of their income on housing. Unfortunately, many people on Long Island are forced to spend much more – in some cases spending over 50 percent. For example, a person making $20,301 a year would have to spend 73 percent of their income on housing to afford the fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Suffolk County.

The study also found that a person must earn at least $64,000 to afford the median monthly cost of owning a home with a mortgage in Suffolk County. And the growing elderly community is struggling to afford rental rates of around $1,200 – not easy on a fixed income.

With extraordinarily high taxes already placing a huge burden on most families, the cost of housing is breaking the backs of those who can least afford it. Encouraging families to live on Long Island will help expand business and spark economic growth throughout our community, but housing costs this high act as a major deterrent.

We need to do better for our families and our community. The need for affordable housing on Long Island is obvious, and we must work to create solutions to this growing problem. That’s why I sponsored a bill that establishes the Long Island Workforce Housing Incentive Program, which will require a minimum percent of new housing units on Long Island to be dedicated to low-income housing (A.8060-A). I also worked on legislation to help homeowners get financial assistance by enabling the State of New York Mortgage Agency to raise additional funding to cover the demand for mortgages for low-and moderate-income first-time homeowners (A.8649). And in a further effort to make the right choices for our families, the Assembly recently passed a budget that blocked the governor’s 20 percent property tax hike – the largest in state history.

This housing crisis is making it difficult for hardworking families to make a good life for themselves and invest in our communities. Rest assured, I remain dedicated to solving this problem and helping Long Islanders afford the quality of life they deserve.