Westchester Residential Opportunities Secures $425,000 in HUD Fair Housing Grants

Real Estate In-Depth | March 2020

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded more than $3 million to fair housing organizations in New York State, including a total of $425,000 to White Plains-based Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. to confront violations of the nation’s landmark Fair Housing Act and help end housing discrimination.

HUD awarded a total of more than $40 million in fair housing funding nationwide, including $3.135 million to New York based agencies.

WRO was awarded grants of $300,000 and $125,000. WRO will use the $300,000 grant funds to support its “Fair Housing in the Lower Hudson Valley” project. Through this project, WRO will continue to implement a systemic fair housing testing program and extend the geographic reach of prior testing grants by engaging in more comprehensive testing throughout the Lower Hudson Valley region of New York, including Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as the current underserved areas of Putnam and Dutchess counties.

Testing and enforcement will focus people with disabilities; families with children; immigrant populations with limited English proficiency, the underserved areas of Putnam and Dutchess counties and the homeless population. Throughout the grant period, WRO will continue administering its comprehensive fair housing enforcement program, aiding victims of housing discrimination, particularly underserved populations, through a vigorous program of complaint intake and

investigation, and resolution through mediation or litigation. Finally, WRO will co-sponsor a fair housing training for attorneys to train regional lawyers in how to litigate fair housing complaints; and sponsor a Fair Housing Symposium, according to HUD.

WRO will utilize the $125,000 grant funding to inform people in Westchester, Rockland, and Putnam counties of their fair housing rights and maximize equal housing opportunities through fair housing education and outreach.

To this end, WRO will leverage its relationships with other non-profits, including disability rights groups, LGBTQ advocates, a Hispanic resource center and entities fighting homelessness, to broaden its reach. Activities will include sponsoring the annual Westchester County Fair and Affordable Housing Expo; conducting fair housing workshops for people seeking housing, real-estate agents, landlords, cooperative and condominium boards, and management companies and distributing fair housing brochures in three languages for people with limited English proficiency.

The HUD grants are being awarded through the department’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program and the Fair Housing Assistance Program to help people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination and to educate the public and housing providers on the nation’s fair housing laws.

More than $1 million of the funding is being awarded to grantees located in Opportunity Zones.

“HUD is committed to supporting efforts to rid discrimination from our society,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “The grants we are awarding today will enable our fair housing partner organizations to combat unlawful policies and behavior and foster practices that ensure everyone has access to safe, affordable housing, free from discrimination.”

“Housing discrimination frays the very sense of self and security to which all Americans are entitled. HUD continues to work toward leveling the playing field for all renters and potential homeowners, so that they may live where they choose,” said Lynne Patton, HUD Regional Administrator for New York and New Jersey. “PHIP grants provide local organizations with the funding and tools necessary to root out offenders and protect vulnerable populations in Region II.”