Surrounded by 50 plus young professionals from H2M architects + engineers in Melville, Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory said he wants to find ways to encourage millennials to remain in Suffolk County through the creation of a pilot program that would assist them with the financial challenges of paying down student loan debt while trying to purchase a home.
The bill instructs the Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning to create a pilot program to address the issues that are causing millennials to leave Suffolk County for less expensive areas.
“Our young people just do not have the means by which to pay down their student loans and be able to afford the costs associated with purchasing a home in which to raise a family,” said Presiding Officer Gregory. “The result is that they are leaving the place they know and love. Businesses here are struggling to find and maintain a stable workforce. We need to consider ideas and programs that can stem the flow of residents off Long Island and find ways to entice them to stay.”
Rich Humann, CEO & President of H2M, which has 300 plus employees in Melville, said there are currently 30 jobs on their website which have not been filled. While H2M has established programs and incentives to bring young professionals to the company and retain them as employees, he knows there are still challenges.
“At H2M, we pride ourselves in hiring the best talent possible to best serve our clients and are committed as an organization to our young professionals. We have embarked on a business solution to provide the needed opportunities for young professionals to live and work on Long Island, as it is vital to our growth as a company. The legislation proposed by Presiding Officer Gregory is the type of innovative and creative approach business leaders need to address the challenges facing our young professionals and workforce. It is an important start and we applaud his efforts. We will work side-by-side with him on this initiative,” said Mr. Humann.
Peter Elkowitz, President & CEO of the Long Island Housing Partnership said that the legislation proposed by Presiding Officer Gregory is “a critical piece of legislation to help retain our educated young adults on Long Island. This is also vital to recruiting additional, highly skilled workers for Long Island’s employees.”
Dr. Nathalia Rogers, Professor of Social Sciences & Humanities at Berkeley College, spoke of the importance of maintaining young and old residents and people of all ages which she said is vital to healthy communities.
Gina Coletti, Co-Chair of the Suffolk County Alliance of Chambers and Daniel Lloyd, Minority Millennials, commended the Presiding Officer for his innovative approach to an issue that has plagued Suffolk County for several years and praised him for taking the initiative to address ways in which to assist young professionals.
States and municipalities throughout the country have begun to create programs that allow residents who have student loan debt to purchase a home while paying down their loans. Presiding Officer Gregory is hopeful that the County’s Economic Development & Planning Department will develop the framework and eligibility requirements for a pilot program, provide recommendations for action, a proposed initial budget and potential sources of revenue to fund the program.
The Department will provide its recommendations to the Legislature within 60 days of adoption of the resolution. To view the video please visit Presiding Officer Gregory’s Twitter page or the Suffolk County Legislature Facebook Page at www.scnylegislature.us.