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Study: Bulk of Long Islanders Struggle to Pay Mortgage, Rent

Latest Long Island Index report says many plan to leave the area within the next five years.

Long Island's high cost of living has half of its population planning to leave the region within the next five years, a new study released Thursday concludes, as locals who have seen economic hardship after the Great Recession struggle to pay their mortgages and rents.

The findings of the The Long Island Index Report, "Long Island in the Aftermath of the Great Recession," is based on data gathered in the fall of 2012, before Superstorm Sandy left Long Islanders with damaged properties, battered homes, destroyed personal belongings and totaled automobiles.

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According to the report, 58 percent of Long Islanders have trouble paying their housing costs, with 81 percent pointing the finger at the "serious" problem of high property taxes.

The study, conducted by the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research, found locals are either planning to leave the area or worry that their children or family members will head for greener pastures off of Long Island, otherwise known as brain drain.

But while Long Island organizations like the Index have warned of brain drain for years, the urgency to thwart the problem is high on local minds, the study found. About 60 percent said the lack of affordable housing is a problem in their county, with the same percentage supporting changes to zoning laws that would make it easier to create legal rental apartments in a single-family homes.

“This survey highlights serious concerns for policymakers, and these concerns existed prior to Hurricane Sandy,” Nancy Douzinas, president of the Rauch Foundation, which publishes the Index, said in a statement. “The storm could not have lessened them or altered the fact that we need to be far more innovative in developing ways to address the high cost of living on Long Island.”

Leonie Huddy, director of the Stony Brook's survey research center, said the level of locals struggling for housing is at an all-time high.

“Unless there is a sudden and sustained increase in local household income, residents will look to leave as soon as the property market bounces back," he said.

To read the entire report, see the media attached to the article.

Let us know in the comments, are you a Long Islander who's planning to leave?

Story by Henry Powderly

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