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NY's Westchester County Failing To Comply With Historic Housing Desegregation Order

 

 

NEW YORK, -- An Anti-Discrimination Center ("ADC") report issued today, exactly six months after Westchester entered into a historic federal court Settlement Order to resolve a lawsuit brought by ADC, finds that Westchester is brazenly refusing to comply with critical elements of those obligations.  The Settlement Order was entered on August 10, 2009, following court rulings that had found that Westchester had "utterly failed" to meet its "affirmatively furthering fair housing" ("AFFH") obligations throughout a six-year period, and that every single certification that Westchester had made during that period to the federal government asserting that the County had or would meet those obligations was "false or fraudulent."

Under the Settlement Order, a crucial early step required of Westchester was the submission of an "Implementation Plan" for the achievement of the Settlement Order's desegregation goals.  The Implementation Plan was supposed to be detailed and specific in setting forth the actions and activities necessary to ensure Settlement Order success.  ADC has found that the documents recently submitted to the Monitor overseeing compliance "constitute neither planning nor implementation.  The documents ignore or contradict several fundamental principles and requirements of the Settlement Order, and are clearly designed to maintain the status quo to the maximum extent possible."  

Among the key findings of the report:

  • The County sets out three "Guiding Principles & Objectives" for development.  Not one is directed to affirmatively furthering fair housing.

  • Westchester completely ignores its obligation to plan to achieve maximum desegregating effect with the development of the units in question.  The County's submission even fails to acknowledge the existence of segregation or its scope.

  • Westchester completely ignores its obligation to take all actions, including legal action, to overcome the longstanding resistance in the whitest Westchester municipalities to affordable housing development.  The County is even backing away from admitting that it has authority in relation to exclusionary municipal zoning that stymies County efforts to develop affordable housing that would AFFH, authority the Settlement Order forced Westchester to acknowledge.

  • Contrary to the Settlement Order, Westchester tries to create local preferences for the housing to be developed, preferences that not only fail to affirmatively further fair housing but actually perpetuate the existence of segregation.

  • Even though Westchester admits that the "major limiting factor" in implementing required development is "the ability for the developer to gain building approvals from the city, town, or village," the County resolutely treats local zoning barriers as a given, something to be adapted to, rather than – as the Settlement Order insists – barriers to be overcome.

  • Westchester's submission demonstrates a blatant disregard of its obligations as they relate to the affirmative marketing of housing to be developed to income-eligible residents of New York City (the Settlement Order very clearly mandates out-of-County marketing).

ADC's report concludes that Westchester's submission is deliberately vague and evasive: "How much more doesWestchester's submission tell us about the specifics of what the County is actually going to do than we knew prior to the submission?" the report asks.  The answer, ADC finds, is "not much."

Craig Gurian, ADC's Executive Director, stated: "It is essential that the Monitor stand up for the integrity of the Settlement Order and, pursuant to his Settlement Order authority, reject Westchester's entirely inadequate submission.  Failing to do so would guarantee the failure of the Settlement Order in Westchester and would irreparably harm the credibility of 'affirmatively furthering fair housing' steps that HUD may be considering taking nationwide."

The full text of the report is available at: http://www.antibiaslaw.com/prescription.

 

SOURCE Anti-Discrimination Center

RELATED LINKS
http://www.antibiaslaw.com/prescription



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