Legislators Working With HUD To Keep $5.2M In Westchester

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Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowtiz (D-Somers) announces they BOL's expanded role in fulfilling the 2009 fair and affordable housing settlement.
Westchester Board of Legislators Chairman Michael Kaplowtiz (D-Somers) announces they BOL's expanded role in fulfilling the 2009 fair and affordable housing settlement. Photo Credit: Brian Donnelly

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - Westchester was set to lose $5.2 million in 2012 federal grants this week, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) decided to delay reallocation until June 9.

Westchester Board of Legislators (BOL) Chairman Michael Kaplowtiz asked HUD  in an April 24 letter for the delay and to expand the BOL leadership's role in satisfying the requirements of the 2009 fair and affordable housing settlement. 

Now, the county has 30 days to present to HUD a plan and timeline to enact legislation that assures it will conform with the settlement and "affirmatively furthers fair housing."

"Despite what some people say, compliance does not mean capitulation, it does mean upholding our end of the 2009 settlement that we agreed to," Kaplowitz, who voted for the settlement, said Friday.

HUD maintains Westchester has seven communities that have exclusionary zoning based on a report it had done in 2013. To fully comply with the settlement, HUD is requiring the county to adopt that report. This is one of four assurances HUD has asked for, in addition to submitting a plan for completing the required zoning analysis and a strategy to overcome exclusionary zoning practices.

County Executive Rob Astorino has refused to make these assurances, saying there is no exclusionary zoning in Westchester, based on its own studies. He has said HUD is trying to dismantle local zoning in Westchester.

"The county is in compliance with the settlement and has been," said Ned McCormack, communications director for Westchester County. "So, there's no reason for it to give up local control to get these grants."

McCormack added that there is no guarantee Westchester will get the money even if legislators draft legislation in what he called a short time frame.

Astorino handed down legislation to the BOL Monday to create a county-run program to replace the funds it receives from HUD for homeless prevention and construction of affordable housing.

Kaplowtiz said Friday that the proposal has little traction amongst legislators. However, McCormack said it would "eliminate any leverage HUD has over our local communities." 

The BOL has also created a delegation of four legislators, all of whom are attorneys, to begin work Monday, May 12, on providing an Analysis of Impediments (AI). Kaplowtiz said Friday he hopes the communities named as having exclusionary zoning will make the necessary changes so that their AI will show there is no exclusionary zoning Westchester. 

In addition to Kaplowitz, the delegation includes Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon), Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) and 

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