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Look to Patchogue for Hochul's housing vision for New York

Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri joined Governor Kathy Hochul to highlight Long Island budget investments and the urgency of New York Housing Compact at the Patchogue Family YMCA in Suffolk County.
Darren McGee
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri joined Governor Kathy Hochul to highlight Long Island budget investments and the urgency of New York Housing Compact at the Patchogue Family YMCA in Suffolk County.

Governor Kathy Hochul visited Patchogue on Thursday to show the rest of New York what transit-oriented development should look like.

“Patchogue shows what real success looks like; it can feel tangible,” Hochul said to a crowd of community leaders at the Patchogue YMCA.

Earlier, she toured the village’s revitalized downtown with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Village Mayor Paul Pontieri, admiring second-floor apartments overlooking vibrant restaurants and stores.

“That didn't just happen. If we just let life go by without stepping up, and saying ‘people need to live here, they have to have a place to live,’ this would be a ghost town that it started to be. It truly would,” Hochul said.

“And Patchogue stepped up.”

Her visit comes as she faces backlash from Republicans and some local governments on Long Island for requiring an increase in new housing units by 3% over three years, especially near train stations, as part of her proposed New York Housing Compact.

Hochul said the region and the rest of New York needs to keep pace and build new housing for its growing population.

She said more housing units are needed to make Long Island more affordable. She cited data that shows the cost of housing has increased 66% over 10 years on Long Island, and that more and more residents are spending more than 30% of their incomes on mortgages or rent.

“With the partners we have, we [can] make decisions internally ourselves about how we want to do things. We're not afraid to make decisions,” Pontieri said.

Republicans on Long Island have rejected Hochul’s proposal, defying any attempt by the state to make local zoning decisions. They said Long Island also lacks the infrastructure and services to handle more population density.

Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter presented her annual State of the Town address Wednesday, rejecting any proposal from Albany “that could diminish local autonomy and push aside local zoning laws.”

Carpenter touted 2,000 housing units already underway in different stages of development in Islip, which are developed alongside input from civic groups, “at a pace and in a direction that makes sense for our town’s unique identity.”

“This is what home rule is all about—the autonomy to best govern, by the people who know their hometown best,” Carpenter said in a statement.

“People don't care about density, if what they see they like,” Pontieri rebuffed. “We talked about what it's going to look like, what it's going to feel like, and how it will become a better place because of it.”

Save Our Suburbs
Office of Oyster Bay Town Supervisor
Save Our Suburbs

Still, communities on Long Island, including the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Huntington, along with their village mayors, gathered to oppose Hochul’s plan on Wednesday at the Port Washington train station — and “save our suburbs.”

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino said in a statement, “We must save our suburbs from this ill-conceived housing plan as it would overcrowd classrooms, greatly increase traffic and cars parked on our streets, strain emergency services and threaten the environment.”

Hochul said her proposal directs $20 million to help towns and villages flip vacant strip malls and industrial properties into mixed-use affordable housing. Another $250 million would help with sewering, road repairs and other infrastructure costs.

“If you don't grow, you stagnate. When you stagnate, you die,” Hochul said in response to criticism.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.