Great Neck residents raise alarms about scant housing options

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Village of Great Neck trustees received a petition with over 400 signatures expressing concern about home affordability and a lack of housing options for young people on Tuesday. (Photo from the Blank Slate Media archive)

Kimber Simchayof, an 18-year-old senior in Great Neck North High School, said that as she and her friends have prepared to go to college and her cousins have gotten married, she has been thinking about how she will be able to afford housing in Great Neck.

Simchayof said she loves the area and wants to live there with her own family someday – but the big question is “how?”

“I want to come back here. I love Great Neck, I love the community, I love the close net that we have. I love the schooling systems and everything about it,” Simchayof said. “I’m just worried that after I’m finished with my four years, there’s not going to be a place for me here.”

Simchayof is just one of the more than 400 signers of a petition presented to the Village of Great Neck’s board of trustees last Tuesday night, calling on them to tackle what they call a “crisis” of young people moving out because they cannot afford to live there.

The petition says that young adults and families are moving out at “an alarming rate” and that between the aging population and “mass exodus” of young people, it will “negatively impact our property taxes, schools, housing values, economy and our growth.”

It attributes the situation to limited options when it comes to purchasable housing that can appeal to younger people. It goes on to suggest that the board incentivize denser development, such as condominiums, to provide “a greater range of housing choices at a greater range of price points than the existing stock of available housing.”

“We can no longer maintain the status quo and neglect our responsibility to future generations,” the petition says. “This crisis should serve as a wake-up call to the BOT [Board of Trustees] to stem the tide of young adults fleeing, and ensure they can realize the dream of homeownership in our Village.”

Maya Namdar, a mother of four and one of the organizers of the petition, recalled growing up in Great Neck with her brother. While she was able to stay here, her brother had to move to Queens, and she fears her own children will have no way to afford living where they grew up either.

“It just feels really unfair that we [people who grew up in Great Neck] need to move out because we cannot afford it,” Namdar said.

Joe Gill, the village-clerk treasurer, said that the average home in Great Neck is worth around $860,000, but petitioners said a “livable” house in the village costs a “minimum” of a million dollars and that cheaper houses often require extensive repairs.

“It’s important for us to do whatever we can to get our young generation to stay in Great Neck and develop Great Neck…” Village of Great Neck Mayor Pedram Bral said after the meeting. “It’s very sad for them to feel that they have to leave because they feel, ‘we can’t afford it.'”

Bral added that he hopes the new engineering study to be conducted by VHB will feature recommendations that will help “develop the village in a proper way” and create a “corridor commercial area” that will not have an negative impact on their infrastructure.

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