The administration of County Executive Rob Astorino reacted with anger and disappointment to the latest rejection by the Department of Housing and Urban Development of the county’s analysis of zoning in Westchester municipalities.
HUD must accept the analysis before it will release more than $17 million in community development grants from 2011, 2012 and 2013. About $7 million from 2011 will be lost for good this summer if the county cannot satisfy HUD. Click here for more on Friday’s letter.
“This latest letter clearly indicates that HUD won’t be satisfied until it has dismantled local zoning in Westchester and that it has no problem hurting the county’s poor and homeless until it gets its way,” said Ned McCormack, a spokesman for Astorino.
The analysis is required by the 2009 fair housing settlement between Westchester, HUD and the Justice Department. The settlement also requires the county to build 750 units of affordable housing in largely-white communities and take other steps to promote fair housing.
McCormack pointed out that if the county gives HUD the assurances it’s looking for, the letter says the county still may have to do more.
“HUD’s acceptance of the County’s annual action plan(s) does not constitute acknowledgment that the County has fully discharged its obligations under the Settlement, or that the County has otherwise complied with the terms of the Settlement, to date or in the future,” the letter says.
“That’s an impossible standard to meet and it’s a standard that’s not in the settlement,” McCormack said.
McCormack said the county will respond to HUD’s letter point by point but it won’t change its conclusion that there is no exclusionary zoning in Westchester.
“Our conclusion is based on an objective analysis of what zoning is,” he said.