3 Long Island Towns Tackling the Housing Shortage

08 December, 2023

Throughout Long Island, an acute housing shortage has cast a looming shadow over communities. Outdated apartments dot the landscape, with only 17.1% and 16.1% of Suffolk and Nassau counties allocated for rentals, respectively – falling well below the nationwide figure of 34.6%.

The significance of the shortage transcends mere numbers. It strikes at the core of the region’s workforce, creating a financial divide for many. A staggering 64% of Long Island renters find themselves unable to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment.

The root issue? A labyrinth of regulations and zoning coupled with a lengthy and complex permitting process that may act as a barrier to development. A significant portion of the existing zoning does not allow for the density necessary to make housing projects feasible, further perpetuating the crisis.

However, three Long Island communities have stepped into the spotlight, working hand in hand with developers to rewrite the narrative.


Patchogue was a neighborhood with a forgotten downtown, worn facades and dilapidated alleys. Village administration made a game-changing decision to advocate for overlay districts—a move that paved the way for more concentrated development, allowing for more units and unlocking the Village’s untapped potential.

However, the Village’s growth was stunted by a key element—sewer capacity. A common Long Island issue, Patchogue’s Village leaders secured support to expand the capacity of their treatment plant and extend their sewer line beyond Village boundaries, a bold move that provided the Village a path to growth and rejuvenation along its outskirts.

These improvements and incentives attracted several multifamily developers. Bohler’s Melville office designed and is in the process of permitting two transformative projects—a market-rate housing development and a workforce housing initiative – the second of these which was funded by state grants and aims to provide a haven for survivors of domestic violence survivors.

By leveraging state grant money and planning for a percentage of workforce housing within a proposed community, developers are permitted the extra density needed which can make their projects viable.




In Riverhead, proximity to the train station is not just a convenience; it is a catalyst for transformation. The community’s accessibility to transit allows developers to consider fewer parking spaces and possibly maximize their space with additional units.

Fueled by the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD), Riverhead also established overlay districts, rich with incentives such as increased density through extra building height. One additional floor could tip the scales, providing enough units to make a project financially viable.

Bohler is helping to design a mixed-use, multi-level building adjacent to the train station, that will house 243 apartments on four- and five-stories. A second mixed-use building with 36 workforce apartments, retail spaces, and 332 public parking spots is also proposed.




Islip’s Downtown Development District Zoning was the harbinger of change, focusing efforts on the hamlet of Bay Shore — the largest downtown — and spreading to other hamlets with railroad stations and underserved communities like Central Islip.

The concept was simple yet impactful—create denser, transit-oriented communities, fostering vibrant living spaces that also serve as community hubs. To maintain walkability, the zoning laws encouraged ground floor retail and concealed parking, preserving local businesses and maintaining the town’s sales tax base.

In Central Islip, Bohler is assisting Georgica Green Ventures with a project on Carlton Ave. The project is a beacon of affordability with ground floor retail and artist spaces for tenants earning 30% to 80% of the median salary. Across town in Bay Shore, Bohler’s Rechler Greybarn project, located near the railroad station, offers 88 units, ground floor retail, and amenities – embodying Islip’s commitment to a diverse, unified community.




Hope for Long Island Multifamily

Long Island business leaders are optimistic about the future following a meeting with New York State Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas who discussed incentives for new housing development in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Gov. Kathy Hochul also signed an executive order creating the Pro-Housing Community Program, directing $650 million in state discretionary funds to affordable housing municipalities.

“Long Island’s economy continues to be challenged by housing costs and availability, and we appreciate Governor Hochul’s tenacious focus on spurring new housing developments,” LIA President and CEO Matt Cohen said in a written statement.

In addition, Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs), can help support multifamily and affordable housing projects through Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) programs, typically requiring a percentage of affordable units or community amenities for eligibility.

How Design and Development Teams Can Help

To navigate the challenges of urban development, design and development teams can make a significant impact by seeking out bold municipal leaders who champion progressive change. Engaging with local leadership and civil groups from the project’s inception is crucial—inviting them into the design process promotes the idea that their perspectives are valued, fostering a collaborative journey toward urban transformation.

Ready to move forward with a multifamily project on Long Island?

Contact a Bohler specialist
About Eric Meyn

As an Associate, Eric oversees Bohler’s site development projects throughout Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester Counties, as well as the five boroughs of New York City. With over two decades of experience in land development consulting, Eric brings valuable insight to every project. He begins each endeavor by understanding his client’s overarching goals for development and remains focused on finding ways to keep projects moving forward.

Leveraging his background in geology and environmental science, Eric provides innovative design solutions for environmentally sensitive site designs. With experience across multiple market sectors, Eric addresses SEQRA concerns, and cost-effective stormwater management designs. To date, Eric has helped multifamily developers navigate the complicated Long Island land use and entitlement processes.

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