WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a last minute deal that could prevent Westchester County from getting slammed with federal fines.
County officials say they’ve complied with a federal consent decree over affordable housing in predominantly white suburban communities.
In a packed conference room Tuesday filled to the brim with new housing projects, the Westchester County executive announced what he calls an eleventh hour push to avoid federal fair housing fines.
“With four days to spare,” said County Executive Rob Astorino,” I’m pleased to announce that Westchester County has not only met the benchmark, we have but exceeded it.”
As CBS2’s Lou Young reports, this could be the end of a 6-year court fight to integrate some of the wealthiest suburbs in America — the United States Departments of Justice, Housing, and Urban Development claiming the restrictive zoning of posh villages and towns amounts to de facto racial segregation.
The county ordered to begin building 750 units in 31 predominately white communities — unveiling the last of the plans just days before the deadline this Saturday.
Reverend Troy DeCohen from the Interfaith Clergy Association is not impressed.
“This is a drop in the bucket,” he said.
Critics say the county got to this point kicking and screaming. They call it a small victory accomplished at a grudgingly slow pace.
“There is nothing to celebrate,” said DeCohen. “Westchester County is still one of the most segregated counties, communities in the nation.”
The project — called Pinwood Condominiums — is part of the settlement in Larchmont. The residents are not poor, they’re merely not affluent.
The condos contain 51 units with an eligibility cutoff of an $83,000 annual salary. It’s cut off from the main road by a commercial strip that includes a gas station and it’s right up against Metro-North Railroad tracks. It’s in town, but just barely.
Another project has 41 units — technically in Rye, but almost in Port Chester — also along the tracks. Modest accommodations for a select few which may be the last hurrah.
“After Jan. 21 we have to regroup,” said Alec Roberts From Affordable Housing Innovations. “We have to find other ways of addressing exclusionary zoning.”
Dr. Ben Carson — nominated by President-elect Donald Trump as HUD Secretary — has dismissed this type of affordable housing as “social engineering.”