Wealthy “1 percenters” who live in ritzy East Hampton aren’t racist, according to the town’s housing director — they just don’t like looking at poor people.
Three affordable housing complexes are planned for Amangansett, East Hampton and Montauk to meet a “housing crisis” for lower-income workers who serve the swanky towns on the eastern tip of Long Island — where the average home sells for nearly $3 million, reported the New York Post.
A site for the 15-unit housing development was set aside 20 years ago in Amagansett, which is home to rock legend Paul McCartney, actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson, and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, but the project only recently moved forward.
“Local working families struggle to find a place to live,” said Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton town supervisor.
East Hampton’s Housing Authority bought the 4.67-acre property for $3.415 million with bonds backed by the town, and some wealthy residents showed up last month to a public meeting about the project to complain about “paving paradise,” while hundreds have signed a petition calling for the project to be abandoned.
“Most opponents would prefer the people who mow their lawns, cook their food and babysit their children live elsewhere,” said Catherine Casey, the director of the East Hampton Housing Authority.
The area’s Latino population jumped 166 percent between 2000 and 2010, the newspaper reported — but the Housing Authority director insisted wealthy critics had no racial motivation for opposing the project.
“It’s not that they don’t want Latinos,” Casey said. “It’s that they don’t want poor people.”
The Amagansett site, which is zoned for affordable housing, would place a 15-building development with 12 one-bedroom, 12 two-bedroom and 12 three-bedroom apartments, renting for from $1,100 to $2,300 a month.
Some assistance would be offered to a family of four with a total annual household income of $106,200 or less, the Post reported, and priority will be given to emergency medical technicians, fire volunteers, teachers and mental health workers.
“We have a lot of locals that don’t have the ability to afford a single-family home,” said Jeanne Nielsen, the East Hampton assessor. “I wish there was a way to wave a magic wand and make it better.”
The $18 million project, which should be completed in 2019, would include four commercial units and some green spaces and recreational areas.
The town supervisor said the project would create homes for about 97 people — which would boost Amagansett’s population by less than 4 percent.
There are currently three other low-income projects in Montauk and East Hampton.