The federal government and Westchester County have come to the end of their affordable housing settlement, with the county having satisfied the federal government that it has done what it was supposed to do in order to bring an adequate number of affordable units to communities lacking them.
Federal Judge Denise L. Cote signed a document terminating the Consent Decree that went into effect on Aug. 10, 2009, and declared that a federal monitor is no longer needed to check up on the county’s compliance. Cote was affirming what the county and federal government had already agreed to on their own.
In 2009, Westchester County entered into a stipulation and order with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase its efforts to affirmatively further fair and affordable housing.
Among other things, the agreement required Westchester to see to it that a total of 750 units of affordable housing were built in 31 of the county’s least diverse communities.
The settlement also asked that the county develop a robust campaign to promote diversity and support for affordable housing, and undertake an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice.
“I do not attempt to take credit for all of the affordable housing that was developed over the past 12 years,” Westchester County Executive George Latimer said. “It was a long road, and much of it was traveled before I walked in the door as county executive.
“But I think we have proven time and again that fair and affordable housing is something that we believe in,” he continued. “We consistently put significant money aside, we conducted a housing needs study, and we understand fully how great that need is.
“More than 11,000 units are needed to satisfy the demand for young families and seniors on fixed incomes,” Latimer said, “and we want to see these projects come to fruition all across Westchester.”
According to data supplied to the Business Journal by Westchester County, as of June 30 the county had exceeded the 750 units that were required to be produced under the settlement. The total number of units approved in communities covered under the settlement stood at 968, with 914 of those units receiving building permits and 809 having been issued certificates of occupancy. Eighteen different developers were involved in providing the affordable units.
“We know that we have a long way to go, but I want to thank the Department of Justice for recognizing our commitment to this cause. We made every effort to satisfy the terms of the case, and I am thrilled that we are able to put it behind us,” Latimer said.