Friday, July 01, 2005

There's No Place Like Home

In recent months we have been hearing and reading about two pressing problems here on Long Island: The first, the proliferation of illegal accessory apartments (and in particular, cellar apartments), which pose a clear and present danger not only to our suburban quality of life but, more critical, especially for those who are the renters of such apartments, to health, safety and, in some instances, to life itself. The second, the lack of affordable housing, and the corresponding absence of any real plan to bring the availability and cost of housing in line with the needs of our communities. Illegal accessory apartments and the lack of affordable housing are not somebody else's problems. They are issues to be dealt with in our own backyards!

Here at The Community Alliance, we firmly believe that illegal multiple dwelling units in houses designated as single family residences must go. No ifs, ands or buts. We also believe, and so assert with no less vigor and certainty, that the renter of the illegal apartment cannot, should not and must not become either a burden to taxpayer and society or the innocent victim of a zealous righteousness to return suburbia to our Island. It is, after all, their Island as well.

In truth, the problems of illegal accessory apartments and the lack of affordable housing are not mutually exclusive. Both must be addressed with equal passion and sensitivity. Both impact on every resident, in every community, and must be part and parcel of every discussion, every proposal, and every concerted effort to gain the upper hand in our battle to restore and improve quality of life on the Island we call home. We look forward to working with residents on these critical issues, to continuing and encouraging a significant dialogue among the various civic and community groups and with Town, County and State officials, and to moving forward with an aggressive and comprehensive plan to eradicate illegal housing (which benefits only the pocketbook of the illegal landlord), while providing safe, comfortable and affordable housing for families, for workforce, for seniors here on our Island (which benefits us all).

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