HUNTINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There is a new affordable housing initiative in one Long Island town, and it doesn’t involve building anything new.

It allows people to rent out the majority of their home, as long as they still live in a small part of it, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports.

When Helen Boxwill, a school principal, wanted to retire, she added everything up and knew money would be tight, so she created a legal apartment in her Huntington house and rents it out for $1,000 a month.

“It’s made a world of difference. It meant I could retire and be comfortable, and you’re providing a home for people,” she said.

Now, Huntington is going a step further to offset the cost of suburban living. In sweeping changes to its accessory apartment code, it will allow homeowners to live in an apartment within their house and rent out the bigger main part. That configuration had been illegal.

“We’re seeing our senior population outliving their resources, and in many cases, they don’t have anywhere else to go and they really want to remain in their homes. So in this case, the new law allows the homeowner to occupy the smaller accessory unit and rent out the larger space of the house to possibly a young family who might be looking to get into the housing market in and around Huntington and Long Island, so really, it’s a win-win,” Joan Cergol, a Huntington town councilwoman, said.

It’s affordable housing without having to build anything, says town supervisor Chad Luppinacci.

“It’s easier to use the infrastructure that we have and try to amend our laws to have more options,” he said.

Accessory apartments will also now be allowed on much smaller lots, but opponents are worried about a flood of new families with children that will overburden schools and septic systems. They’re also concerned about filling residential streets with too many cars.

“It’s overburdening the hardworking taxpayers of these areas. They have a right to live in peace and harmony,” councilman Eugene Cook said.

The new code does cap the number of apartments allowed in any neighborhood to 10% of homes, and it gives the town oversight over safety and overcrowding.

Edward Nitkewicz, Huntington accessory apartment hearing officer, says, “If you have concerns about out-of-control illegal apartments, this is what you want” because the code can turn previously illegal, unregulated apartments into safe, affordable housing.


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