In an effort to reverse “brain drain” and provide much-needed affordable housing options for Long Island’s workforce, the Town of Babylon Industrial Development Agency just approved new rules for rental projects it assists.
The Babylon IDA adopted the new policy Tuesday that requires any new rental housing development that receives IDA benefits to set aside 20 percent of the apartments for residents earning up to 60 percent of the area median income (AMI). Based on current numbers, the affordable units would be available to one person earning no more than $44,600 a year; two people earning up to a total of $51,000 a year; three people earning up to $57,350 a year; or four people earning no more than a total of $63,700 annually.
Babylon’s current housing policy already requires that 20 percent of new units be dedicated as affordable, but it allows prospective renters or buyers to earn up to 130 percent of the AMI, which is $110,450 for a two-person household. And like most towns with similar rules, Babylon lets developers avoid actually building the lower-priced units by paying into an affordability fund. The new IDA rule doesn’t allow developers that option.
Specifically, the IDA’s new policy calls for rents of affordable apartments to be no greater than 70 percent of the fair market value for Nassau and Suffolk counties set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Based on current numbers, that means monthly rents for a one-bedroom apartment would be capped at about $1,075 and about $1,315 for a two-bedroom unit.
The IDA policy also allows for income levels of qualifying tenants to rise to 80 percent of the AMI at the time of recertification.
Matthew McDonough, CEO of the Babylon IDA, said the new policy was needed because the lack of affordable housing options is having a negative effect on the business community.
“Establishing this aggressive affordability policy will create housing options that actually reflect what the average worker can afford and we hope by doing this we set the stage for all future housing developments on Long Island,” McDonough said in an IDA statement.
The new IDA guidelines call for affordable housing requirements to satisfy the following income levels: One-bedroom and studio units for a family of two earning up to 60 percent of the AMI; two-bedroom units for a family of four earning up to 60 percent of the AMI; and three-bedroom units for a family of six earning up to 60 percent of the AMI.