In a December 21, 2010 letter signed by Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña and Assistant Secretary for Community Planning and Development Mercedes Márquez, HUD rejected Westchester County, NY’s revised Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice (AI).
Finding the AI substantially incomplete, Mr. Trasviña and Ms. Márquez wrote that the data “include clear evidence of racial segregation (yet)…the AI remains devoid of any specific strategies and commitments to actions that will overcome impediments. This lack of specific strategies for action…is the fundamental flaw in the AI.”
Jurisdictions receiving Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds must certify that they are affirmatively furthering fair housing (AFFH). This includes having an AI and taking actions to overcome the effects of impediments. In 2009, the U.S. District Court ruled that Westchester County had “utterly failed to comply with the requirement that it perform and maintain a record of its analysis of impediments to fair housing choice in terms of race” (see Memo, 6/5/09). HUD and the county later entered into a settlement that included a revised AI (see Memo, 8/21/09), which Westchester submitted after receiving two deadline extensions.
For HUD to approve Westchester County’s AI under the terms of the court settlement, the assistant secretaries wrote that the county must “identify with specificity the actions it will take to further fair housing choice and submit an AI by April 1, 2011.” Among the steps, the county must:
· Outline strategies to overcome its municipalities’ exclusionary zoning practices. According to the court settlement, the county agreed to take appropriate action to gain municipal cooperation. However, HUD asserted that it has not taken concrete action using tools at its disposal, such as financial incentives and legal action.
· Set forth ways to ensure that it is reducing racial and ethnic segregation as it develops affordable housing. Under the settlement, the county agreed to dedicate $51.6 million to developing at least 750 new affordable housing units over seven years, the vast majority in areas with low ratios of people of color. HUD noted that the court settlement emphasized that the county had to consider the effects of the housing’s location on segregation patterns, not just the numbers.
· Identify actions to promote legislation prohibiting source-of-income discrimination. The settlement required the county to “promote, through the county executive, legislation (that was at the time before the county board of legislators) to ban source of income discrimination in housing.” However, the county executive vetoed the legislation which the board had passed by a wide majority.
The Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC) initiated the litigation that led to the settlement. In a December 22 media release, it supported HUD’s rejection of the revised AI and urged the department to return to court to bring Westchester into compliance. The ADC claimed that the court-appointed monitor overseeing the settlement’s implementation had failed to “stand up for the integrity of the consent decree” by allowing the county to count less controversial sites toward its obligation to create affordable housing in areas with low African-American or Latino household ratios. It believes the monitor has allowed sites close to railroad tracks or highways, others with ground contamination, and still others approved prior to settlement.
For more on AFFH, see NLIHC’s 2010 Advocates’ Guide, page 16.
To read HUD’s December 21, 2010 letter, go to: http://www.nlihc.org/doc/HUD_AI_Letter_December_2010.pdf
More information on the ADC’s work can be found at: http://www.antibiaslaw.com/