Chairman Michael Kaplowitz addresses reporters on Friday May, 9th.
WHITE PLAINS, NY –An April 23rd letter from HUD informed Westchester County that $5.2 million in 2012 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds would be reallocated if the County did not meet it’s obligations to “affirmatively further fair housing” by May 7th. This followed last year’s reallocation of $7.2 million in CDBG funds.
On April 24th, Board of Legislators (WCBoL) Chairman Michael Kaplowitz (D) New Castle, Somers, Yorktown, formally requested that HUD delay the reallocation and begin discussions with WCBoL leadership and Monitor James Johnson about the WCBoL taking an expanded role in the effort to satisfy the County’s obligations under the 2009 fair and affordable housing settlement.
Following more than a week of intense negotiations between WCBoL leadership, HUD, Monitor James Johnson and members of Westchester’s Congressional delegation, HUD informed the WCBoL in a letter on Thursday that the agency would take no action regarding the reallocation of CDGB funds for at least 30 days, until June 9th.
As part of the negotiations, the WCBoL has agreed to present to HUD a specific plan and timeline to enact legislation that would affirm the County’s commitment to a set of four “Required Special Assurances” designed to ensure that the county conforms to the requirement to “affirmatively further fair housing”.
In addition to pursuing the legislation that HUD requires, the WCBoL has established a bipartisan delegation of four Legislators, who are attorney’s, to engage HUD and the Monitor as the WCBoL works toward providing the “Analysis of Impediments” (AI) which is one of the last remaining elements of the 2009 settlement which the county has yet to fulfill.
Chairman Kaplowitz, who voted in favor of the settlement in 2009 said, “Despite what some people say, compliance does not mean capitulation, it does mean upholding our end of the 2009 settlement that we agreed to. We have made significant progress in our discussions with HUD and the Monitor in the last week. HUD’s willingness to work with the WCBoL is a clear indication that they share our belief that we can work with all the stakeholders in this settlement to reach a conclusion that satisfies our obligations under the settlement. If we are successful in our efforts it means we would secure the 2012 CDBG monies of $5.2 million. It would also secure future CDBG monies, bring the County into agreement with the 2009 settlement and avoid future penalties, fines and adverse court decisions….no more no less.” Kaplowitz added, “Westchester County is doing a terrific job of fulfilling our obligation to build the required affordable housing, last year we passed Source of Income legislation which was another fundamental obligation under the settlement. We intend to work closely with the Monitor, relying on the good work he’s done at the municipal level. I hope that the County Executive will view this development as the tremendous opportunity it is and work with the WCBoL and other County Departments to complete one of the final tasks in the settlement, the submission of an acceptable AI.”
Chairman Kaplowitz thanked Holly Leight, Esq., HUD Regional Administrator, Monitor Jim Johnson, Congress members Elliot Engel and Nita Lowey, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and all their staffs for their efforts and assistance.
Matt Richter is WCBoL Communications Director.