The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York filed papers in federal court Friday opposing Westchester County’s effort to stop the government from reallocating $7.4 million in community development grants from 2011.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development has said it will send the money to other communities some time over the summer if the county does not submit an acceptable analysis of zoning that could block housing choices by minorities. The analysis is required by the 2009 fair housing settlement between the government and the county as well as federal law governing the grants, including Community Development Block Grants.
The county went to court to stop the reallocation in April. Judge Denise Cote, who oversees the settlement agreement, declined to grant a temporary stay and the court filings are due over the next couple of weeks.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kennedy argued the county is trying to reopen a fight that was settled by a magistrate judge in late 2011. The monitor overseeing the case and then the magistrate judge ruled that the language of the settlement gives HUD the discretion to decide if the analysis of impediments, which includes the zoning analysis, is acceptable. The county didn’t appeal. Kennedy also argues federal law gives HUD discretion to decide when the county’s analysis is acceptable.
“In essence, the County is asking the Court to compel a federal agency to award grant money to a county with a well-documented history of noncompliance with grant conditions—absent any assurances that the county will comply in the future,” Kennedy wrote.