The League of Women Voters of Westchester put out this statement on the continuing stalemate between Westchester County on one side and the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the monitor overseeing the implementation of the 2009 fair housing settlement on the other:
The League of Women Voters of Westchester is very concerned about recent decisions regarding the dispute between Westchester County and the federal government over the continued implementation of the Housing Settlement Agreement and wishes to submit this brief statement in response. We encourage continued dialogue among all of the parties in the current dispute, including within County government, and it is our belief that the time for compromise has come.
We have read the U.S. District Court’s decision finding the County in violation of the Housing Settlement Agreement due primarily to its failure to promote Source of Income legislation. No fines have been imposed as of yet, but that is clearly within the Court’s jurisdiction to do so. We also note that for the second year in a row, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has withheld Community Development Block Grants from the County, including to those municipalities unaffected by the terms of the Stipulation and Housing Settlement Agreement – apparently based entirely upon HUD’s perception that the County has not promoted this Source of Income legislation.
While the County Executive’s Office has announced its intent to appeal the District Court’s decision, we feel strongly that the better course of action is for the members of the Board of Legislators and the County Executive’s Office to immediately take steps to collaborate on the passage of a new Source of Income bill that will be acceptable to all parties.
Our perspective is that the best interests of our County lie in positively moving forward on this issue. Our legislators and the County Executive, acting together, need to demonstrate to the Court and thereby to HUD, that the County takes all of its responsibilities under the Housing Settlement Agreement seriously, not just those related to the construction of new housing units.
We strongly encourage our legislators and County Executive to work together to craft a piece of legislation dealing with Source of Income and believe that they should so notify the Court, the Monitor and HUD of their intention to do so.
Sharon Lindsay, President
League of Women Voters of Westchester