Westchester is applying for 2014 funding through the Community Development Block Grant, HOME and Emergency Shelter Grant programs even though the federal government has withheld three years of the grants over the county’s compliance with a 2009 fair housing settlement.
But, at a legislative committee meeting this week, there was discussion about the possibility of ending the county’s participation in the program in an effort to allow some of the 36 communities that apply through the county to get grants other ways.
The town of Greenburgh is considering whether to apply on its own, like Westchester’s larger cities already do. But Greenburgh is the only town large enough to qualify as a separate entitlement community. Smaller communities could potentially apply through the state but there may not be as much funding available.
Representatives of the county’s executive and legislative branches both said no decisions had been made on the future of the county’s participation in the program. The Department of Housing and Urban Development is expected to put out instructions on how to qualify for the next three years of funding in April, said Planning Deputy Commissioner Norma Drummond. The application will likely be due in July.
“If HUD won’t give us the money, you have to ask the question ‘why apply?’” said Ned McCormack, a spokesman for County Executive Rob Astorino.
Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, the chairman of the county board, said the goal is to get the CDBG money and they’re nowhere near a decision on whether to apply in the future.
“I don’t think that would be by any means Plan A,” he said.
The county has sued HUD in federal court over $7.4 million in grants from 2011, which were reallocated last fall, and is considering a new lawsuit over the 2012 and 2013 grants, which have been withheld and could be lost permanently. The 2014 grants are estimated at $5.3 million.
The 2014 grants the county is recommending for funding include $30,000 for Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill, $150,000 for sidewalks in Cortlandt, $197,032 for phase II of the Saw Mill River Road improvement project in Greenburgh, $200,000 for flood control in Irvington, $50,000 for a bilingual social worker at Mamaroneck CAP and $30,000 for a volleyball court in Port Chester.
Photo: Robin Henschel of Rye works on some designs at the Clay Arts Center in Port Chester on Aug. 28, 2013. The organization was not be able to get funding from the HUD 2011 CDBG grants. ( Ricky Flores / The Journal News )