County Executive Robert P. Astorino has lost a round in his ongoing battle with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled April 5 that the county violated terms of its 2009 anti-discrimination settlement with HUD when Astorino vetoed legislation that would ban landlords from discriminating against residents on public assistance, such as Section 8 vouchers.
The court rejected Astorino’s argument that the legislation would violate home rule and could come into conflict with the zoning codes of Westchester municipalities.
A similar decision was made by a U.S. District Court.
Astorino said he would comply with the law and continue to take principled stands on behalf of the people of Westchester.
This “would compel every owner of a house or apartment to do business with the federal government – and take on all the rules and regulations that entails – upon a tenant’s presentation of a Section 8 voucher,” Astorino said in a statement. “I also felt that the source of income legislation would be detrimental to the housing settlement because it would act as a disincentive for developers to build affordable housing.”
The two entities have been battling over the county’s compliance with a 2009 settlement claiming that the county promoted discrimination by ignoring local zoning restrictions. As part of the settlement, the county has to build 750 units of affordable housing by August 2016.
HUD is threatening to withhold $7.4 million in federal aid if the county does not comply by April 25.
Astorino said introducing source of income legislation is now in the hands of the Board of Legislators.
Ken Jenkins, chairman of the Board of Legislators, urged Astorino to comply with the terms of the settlement.
“Today’s decision should provide the necessary impetus for County Executive Astorino to introduce new source of income legislation for the board’s consideration and resolve this major issue, before Westchester suffers further consequences from the County Executive’s non-compliance with the law,” Jenkins said in a statement. “The time to act is now.”