The Department of Housing and Urban Development will delay the reallocation of community development grants due to Westchester County until at least June 8 while legislative leaders look for a way to bring the county into compliance with the 2009 fair housing settlement with the federal government.
HUD had said it would send more than $5 million in grants from 2012 to other communities in the region if Westchester County did not give assurances that it would take several steps on the settlement by May 7. County Executive Rob Astorino rejected HUD’s demands, which came on top of the reallocation of $7.4 million from 2011 and while the county is fighting HUD in court over the funds.
But Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, decided that the Board would take the lead in trying to bring the county into compliance. The major sticking point is an analysis of whether local zoning laws preserve segregated housing in mostly white towns. The county’s analysis has said there is no exclusionary zoning in any town. HUD has rejected the analysis as inadequate and Astorino, who is running for governor, has accused the agency of trying to dismantle local zoning.
To keep the grants, by June 8, the county must sign a document assuring HUD that it will provide an analysis that meets its requirements. And by July 31, the county must provide a new analysis. It’s expected to be based partly on the county’s analysis, partly on a report from the monitor overseeing the case, who found exclusionary zoning based on economics in seven towns (one of which has since been removed from the list) and on new work overseen by the board, said Matthew Richter, a spokesman for the board.
“Everyone’s looking at this as a new opportunity to move the ball a little further,” he said.
Kaplowitz is expected to provide more details at a press conference Friday morning.
Photo: Westchester Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, announcing an expanded role for the Board of Legislators in implementing the fair housing settlement April 24, 2014. Elizabeth Ganga/The Journal News