HUD says Westchester still not complying with housing settlement

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Despite optimism from Westchester County officials that a recently-submitted analysis of obstacles to fair housing would satisfy federal officials overseeing the 2009 fair housing settlement and free up federal funds, a letter sent Friday to the county says the analysis is still inadequate.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is giving the county a June 10 deadline for a new submission.

HUD said it still cannot release community development money from 2011, 2012 and 2013 that supports municipal projects and nonprofits because the county cannot certify that it will adequately promote fair housing. The Analysis of Impediments, which includes a zoning analysis that has been the main sticking point, is required to get the Community Development Block Grants and related money.

The 2011 money is in danger of being lost for good.

“It is HUD’s desire to offer Westchester County a clear and constructive path forward that would allow the County to receive its block grant assistance so it, in turn, can promote community development, produce affordable housing and assist homeless persons and families,” the letter from Vincent Hom, HUD’s director of community planning and development, says.

The letter says the county’s analysis, which was submitted April 24 and concludes there is no exclusionary zoning in Westchester, is deficient because it “is lacking in substance,” is based on problematic methodology and asserts conclusions not supported by the data. The county has also not developed an adequate plan to overcome exclusionary zoning and it hasn’t included a plan detailing how the county executive will promote legislation included in the settlement, HUD says.

County Executive Rob Astorino had fought the requirement that he promote the legislation, which would prohibit discrimination against renters because they use government income such as Section 8 or veteran’s benefits. But he lost in court and was forced to reintroduce the source-of-income legislation and promise to sign it. The letter makes clear that, in HUD’s view, his obligation to promote the legislation continues and officials want a written plan included in the Analysis of Impediments. The Board of Legislators is considering the legislation now and could vote later this month.

To get the community development grants, totaling about $17 million, the county must provide HUD with a series of assurances and then the grants will come with conditions including timetables and benchmarks. In addition to the plan to promote source-of-income legislation, HUD wants the county to acknowledge it has a duty to promote fair housing, to revise its zoning analysis, to develop a strategy to overcome zoning that excludes minorities and others protected under fair housing laws and describe what kind of violations would cause it to sue a municipality.

With this letter, HUD is asking the county to agree to an expansion of the players who can force action on exclusionary zoning. If the county, a court, HUD or the monitor identifies exclusionary zoning in any municipality, the county must agree to withdraw HUD funding and take enforcement action, the letter says.

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6 Comments

  1. Same Taxpayer on

    Maybe if the Astorino appointed County Attorney had not written such a sarcastic and scolding letter to the Feds they would not have said this. But isn’t that the only way Astorino and his handlers know how to act?
    “My Way or Highway” wont cut it for Westchester.
    Astorino was an expensive and human mistake for Westchester and needs to be corrected in November

  2. Amanda Johnson on

    Astorino is yielding to pressure from his big-money contributors in Westchester’s expensive lily-white communities, whose money has a particular string attached…NOT IN MY BACK YARD! As usual, with his utter disdain for the middle class, working poor and needy in Westchester, he is willing to endanger or forfeit funding which is desperately needed to address the serious housing situation in Westchester – just to make sure his fat-cat rich buddies don’t have to fear the unwashed masses encroaching on THEIR communities.

    IS THIS THE WESTCHESTER THAT WE ALL WANT TO LIVE IN?

    YET ANOTHER OF THE MANY REASONS ASTORINO IS WRONG FOR WESTCHESTER!

  3. are you kidding on

    if the county looses the money astorino will lose the
    election..its time to throw in the towell and capitulate
    to what the government and the court is demanding whether
    or not the county executive is convinced that it is outside the scope of the original agreement…we are past
    the point of arguing on the merits and attempting to
    split hairs….HUD has made it clear that in the absence
    of a clear mathmatical methodology which is quantifiable
    the time has come to simply implement a strategy that
    satisifies HUD and the court….anything less will result
    in a loss of funds that will not be able to be justified in any context…

  4. Same Taxpayer on

    Curiously, Astorino fails to mention a lot of things:
    One of them is that he packed the State of the County Address with his 67 political patronage hacks, his appointed Commissioners and his contracted underlings, his core group of supporters and their friends, and then he says that his vicious HUD case comments during the “speech” met with sustained applause.
    Astorino has over 60 political patronage hacks on the County taxpayer payroll and his Republican Legislator supporters named Maisano, Burrows, Spreckman, Smith, Gelfarb, Testa, Marcotte, together with 2 Democrat turncoat Legislators, Kaplowitz from Yorktown, and Perez from Yonkers, who were threatened with political opponents and/or funneled funds, voted in KEEPING those political patronage jobs on the County taxpayer gravy train for 2013.
    He fails to mention his political machine is using County taxpayer funds to promote his re-election campaign right from the County government offices.
    Why is his campaign spokesperson Jessica Proud on the County payroll if she is working on his campaign?
    Curiously he fails to talk about that.

  5. Disinterested Ombudsman on

    Astorino is 100% correct. HUD has been, and is, a failing and pugnacious propaganda machine of the far left.

  6. RealityCheck on

    It just seems that at this time, Mr. Astorino, with his legal team, should really focus on getting this done for Westchester, and not waste taxpayer dollars by fighting this. I just don’t see what he feels he will gain, other than to assist with re-election by his 1% campaign contributors.