HUD Rejects Westchester County's Action Plan


In 2009, Westchester County in New York State entered into a landmark desegregation agreement with the federal government. In April 2013, the United States Justice Department sent Westchester officials a letter saying that the county had failed to enact legislation prohibiting housing discrimination based on source of income as ordered by the settlement and by a federal court ruling. The letter said the Justice Department would seek a contempt ruling against the county and County Executive Robert P. Astorino if he did not agree by April 25 to introduce legislation to comply with a provision of the county’s 2009 fair-housing settlement.

Additionally, HUD said it will revoke $7.4 million in money allocated to Westchester and send it elsewhere if the county doesn’t take steps to comply with at least two elements of the settlement by the same date. The two elements that the county is faulted for not following is failing to enact legislation banning discrimination in housing based on the applicant’s source of income — like Section 8 housing vouchers or Social Security payments. The Legislature had passed the measure, but Mr. Astorino vetoed it in 2010. And second, HUD and subsequent court rulings have said the county has failed to conduct an adequate review of impediments to fair housing in its zoning and housing ordinances.

The Westchester County Board of Legislators voted 12 to 4 to authorize a lawsuit challenging HUD’s decision to take away the $7.4 million. At the same time, Astorino sent HUD a study of exclusionary zoning in 31 of the county's affluent, mostly white communities.

Most recently, HUD has rejected Westchester County’s 2013 action plan for its federal affordable housing settlement, arguing that it did not include a satisfactory analysis of municipal zoning and that it lacks a plan to overcome “exclusionary” zoning. And the updated Analysis of Impediment (AI) the county sent to HUD in late April was deemed by HUD as “lacking in substance.” HUD claims that the study includes “problematic methodology” and has conclusions that its data does not support.



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