Westchester Tries to Put Fair Housing Case in Rear View

John Jordan | August 2018

Westchester County Executive George Latimer

WHITE PLAINS—In a move that could eventually free up federal housing funding to county municipalities after being frozen for eight years due to the county’s fair housing battle with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Westchester County Executive George Latimer has re-established the Westchester Urban County Consortium.

The new consortium is comprised of 25 towns and villages in the county, with a combined population of more than 347,000 residents. The cooperation agreements and accompanying Board of Legislators resolution were submitted on July 31 to HUD.

The 2019 grants, if approved, would be the first housing funding the county has received since 2010. The county lost its eligibility due to non-compliance with the HUD Fair and Affordable Housing Settlement. With the acceptance by HUD of the Analysis of Impediments in July 2017, the county has in place the required study of barriers to fair housing, and can once again apply for federal housing funding, county officials state.

“Westchester County stands to get millions in much needed funding from these programs,” Latimer said. “I am pleased to have jump-started the process for municipalities and nonprofits to receive much-needed federal funding for important local projects such as infrastructure improvements, and community development. This is another example of how working cooperatively at all levels of government, we can provide real benefits to residents and save money for local taxpayers.”

The Westchester County Planning Department will administer consortium funds and provide member municipalities with technical assistance throughout the application and grant administration process. Cities with a population of more than 50,000 are eligible to apply directly to HUD for these funds—Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers.

With the consortium’s formation, the county is now eligible to apply for the following federal housing programs:

• Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, which provides funds to local municipalities and nonprofits for physical facilities and public services;

• The HOME Program, which provides funds to developers of affordable housing; and

• Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) funds that are earmarked to non-profits for homeless and eviction prevention programs.

Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Planning Norma Drummond said of the consortium formation, “By Westchester County administering this program, we make the process simpler for our local municipalities, and eliminate the need for them to compete in the New York State Small Cities Program. The HOME funds will leverage the county’s own resources to help build more affordable housing, and the ESG funds can help keep families in their homes when they are facing eviction.”

The 25 members of the Urban Consortium as of July 31 were: Ardsley, Bedford, Buchanan, Cortlandt, Croton, Dobbs Ferry, Elmsford, Greenburgh, Hastings, Irvington, Lewisboro, Mamaroneck (town), Mamaroneck (village), Mount Kisco, Ossining (town), Ossining (village), Pelham (village), Pleasantville, Port Chester, Rye Brook, Rye (town), Scarsdale, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown (village), Yorktown.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth