Suffolk County is facing a number of economic issues that are impacting its residents.
Rising housing costsand property taxes have created a shortage of affordable housing, making it difficult for those looking to move to or stay in the county. Traffic congestion has also become a major problem, as the population and number of vehicles have increased but public transportation options remain limited. Long Island's focus on single-family housing worked well during the first decades following World War II, but as the island's prosperity grew, those houses became increasingly large and expensive, leaving behind pockets of impoverishment for minorities and financially unfortunate people.
Today, even middle-class Long Islanders struggle to cope with the high cost of housing. People with lower salaries obviously bear an even greater housing burden. To address this crisis, regional planners have championed efforts to diversify the island's housing stock with higher-density apartments and housing developments that house neighboring suburban areas. However, it will take decades to catch up with the current demand for affordable multi-family units.
An obvious solution lies in the island's more than 100 urban centers and in the thousands of acres of available space surrounding the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) stations. Collectively, this future-ready space totals more than 8,000 acres, about the same as half of Manhattan south of 50th Street. Remodeling just 50 percent of the available parking space, vacant lots, and other spaces in these city centers could produce 90,000 units of new housing, enough to accommodate more than 200,000 new residents. In addition, Long Island has 8,300 acres of underutilized properties in its urban centers and around its train stations.
These acres represent untapped potential that could begin to address our housing challenges, offering the next generation and boomer-generation seniors a place to live. Furthermore, there are many underutilized industrial properties and abandoned shopping malls that dot the Long Island landscape. The automobile has become king in Long Island's transportation paradigm since post-war real estate developers moved farther away from LIRR roads. As a result, investment in public transportation has declined over time.
To address this issue, local government spending needs to increase in order to develop multi-family housing on land already commercialized and improve public transportation networks. Nearly a quarter of Long Island residents already live less than half a mile from a downtown station or a LIRR station, and many (45% according to a recent survey) imagine living in mixed-income communities where they can walk close to public transportation. Suffolk County is facing an economic crisis that is affecting its residents on multiple levels. The cost of living is rising due to increasing housing costs and property taxes, while traffic congestion is becoming an ever-growing problem due to limited public transportation options.
To combat these issues, regional planners have proposed diversifying the island's housing stock with higher-density apartments and developments that house neighboring suburban areas. However, this will take time to catch up with current demand for affordable multi-family units. Fortunately, there are solutions available that can help alleviate these economic challenges facing Suffolk County residents. By remodeling just 50 percent of available parking space, vacant lots, and other spaces in urban centers across the island, 90,000 units of new housing could be produced - enough to accommodate more than 200,000 new residents.
Additionally, there are 8,300 acres of underutilized properties in urban centers and around train stations that could be used to provide housing for future generations and seniors alike. Finally, local government spending needs to increase in order to develop multi-family housing on land already commercialized and improve public transportation networks. This will help reduce traffic congestion while providing more accessible public transportation options for those living in Suffolk County. With these solutions in place, Suffolk County can look forward to a brighter future.