Just a quick follow up on County Executive Rob Astorino’s State of the County Address last week. Astorino included a long discourse on the 2009 fair housing settlement between the county and the federal government, making several claims that critics have said were wildly exaggerated.
Here’s one line that needs some context: “Critically important: There was never a finding of fact of wrongdoing on the part of the county or an admission of guilt in the settlement,” Astorino said.
In fact, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, who has overseen the case since the beginning, partly granted the Anti-Discrimination Center’s motion for summary judgment in February 2009 and ruled that the county had made false or fraudulent claims when applying for Community Development Block Grants and related funds and writing its AIs, or Analysis of Impediments.
“Despite the regulatory obligation to maintain records reflecting the AI, there is simply no evidence that either of the County’s AIs during the false claims period analyzed race based impediments to fair housing within its jurisdiction,” Cote wrote, adding further down: “Thus, the County has not demonstrated an issue of material fact as to whether it appropriately analyzed race in conducting its AI and recorded that analysis, and as such, its certifications to HUD that it would AFFH were false.”
The judge found there was no factual dispute that the county had falsely certified that it was complying with fair housing law. Because that question didn’t need to be taken to trial, she granted partial summary judgement.
The court left for trial the question of whether the county knew it was falsely certifying it had done everything it needed to do to affirmatively further fair housing, or AFFH. And when the county signed on to the settlement, it denied all the allegations and any liability.
But the ruling paved the way for the settlement.