Southold Town officials said they are considering giving top priority to local volunteer firefighters who are seeking affordable housing.
Southold Supervisor Scott Russell, who suggested the idea at the town board’s May 21 work session, said volunteer firefighters provide a vital service and he would further discuss a proposal with the board in the future.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is keeping firefighters here,” Russell said in an interview May 22. “What we’d like to do is create enticements and make sure if there are local firefighters that would like to step up and help the community, we’d like to find them a place to live.”
There are limits to how much priority towns can give due to state and federal anti-discrimination housing rules, but Russell said there may be an opportunity to create priorities under certain circumstances and he has directed town attorney William Duffy to look into it.
A similar proposal has been floated in Hempstead Town, where officials have been working on rezoning areas of the town that would give firefighters and members of the military preference in future affordable housing construction.