On May 31, the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC) filed two motions in federal court. The first is a “motion to enforce” an August 2009 consent decree with Westchester County, NY. The court had found that the county had “utterly failed” to comply with its obligation to affirmatively further fair housing (see Memo, 6/5/09 and 8/21/09). The second is a “motion to intervene,” asserting that neither the federal government nor the monitor engaged to oversee consent decree implementation have adequately represented the civil rights elements at the core of the consent decree.
Jurisdictions receiving Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME funds must certify that they are affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH), which includes having an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice (AI) and taking actions to overcome the effects of impediments.
The motion to enforce states that Westchester County has “persistently and comprehensively violated its consent decree obligations,” because the county:
- Did not use all of its housing programs to end residential segregation throughout the county.
- Failed on multiple occasions to develop a consent decree Implementation Plan and an AI that comply with the consent decree (see Memo, 2/26/10 and 7/16/10).
- Has not used all means to require municipalities to overcome barriers to fair housing choice, such as exclusionary zoning. For instance, Westchester has not taken legal action, nor has it withheld funding such as CDBG dollars.
- Vetoed county legislation that would prohibit discrimination on the basis of source of income (such as Housing Choice Vouchers).
- Avoided developing affordable housing units in census blocks with low percentages of black (3%) and Latino (7%) populations. The consent decree requires at least 630 such units within seven years. Avoidance tactics include counting projects:
o Permitted before the consent decree (thus, not countering opposition to affordable and fair housing).
o Isolated from the rest of the community because they are surrounded by highways, railroads, and commercial facilities.
o Located in tracts that do not have residential populations and therefore will not encounter opposition.
o Located adjacent to municipalities with high concentrations of black and Latino residents.
o Designed to appeal especially to seniors.
In asking for a motion to intervene, ADC is asking the court to empower it to step in and carry out the functions that ADC asserts the federal government and the monitor are failing to undertake. With respect to the monitor, for example, ADC asserts that the monitor accepted projects with the location deficiencies Westchester sought to make count toward its obligation to provide 630 affordable homes in tracts with low concentrations of black and Latino people. The monitor also failed to specify revisions and additions necessary for an adequate consent decree Implementation Plan; consequently, the county continues to operate without an Implementation Plan.
The motion to intervene also cites the failure of the federal government to seek court assistance to enforce the consent decree whenever the monitor failed to enforce the decree’s obligations. After Westchester sought multiple requests to extend the December 2009 deadline to submit an AI, HUD rejected the July 2010 first AI submission because it was substantially incomplete (see Memo, 1/7/11). When the county sought an extension of a new April 1, 2011 deadline, HUD turned it down, saying that it would ask the U.S. Attorney to seek court enforcement if an AI was not submitted by April 14. HUD found the April 13 AI to be non-compliant, rejecting Westchester’s certification that it was affirmatively furthering fair housing, and consequently rejecting its FY11 Annual Action Plan, all of which should delay receipt of CDBG, HOME, ESG (Emergency Shelter Grant), and HOPWA (Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS) funding. However, HUD has not commenced proceeding to sanction the county.
HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) John Trasviña, in response to the May 31 motions, states, “HUD is taking action to make certain Westchester County lives up to the settlement it agreed to nearly two years ago and is delaying the award of nearly $7.3 million in federal funding until the county completes an acceptable Analysis of Impediments. Our primary goal is that Westchester County use its federal and local resources to further fair housing choice for its residents.”
An ADC media release is at http://www.antibiaslaw.com/westchester-false-claims-case/june-1-2011-adc-statement-motions-enforce-and-intervene,
The motion to enforce is at http://www.antibiaslaw.com/sites/default/files/files/Memo_in_Support_of_Motion_to_Enforce.pdf
The motion to intervene is at http://antibiaslaw.com/sites/default/files/files/Memo_in_Suport_of_Motion_to_Intervene.pdf
ADC’s Westchester webpage is at http://www.antibiaslaw.com/westchester-false-claims-case