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County Housing 'Win' A Hollow Victory, Some Westchester Officials Say

Ken Jenkins, a Democrat from Yonkers, called Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's recent comments downplaying the loss of community development block grant money "insulting to taxpayers."
Ken Jenkins, a Democrat from Yonkers, called Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino's recent comments downplaying the loss of community development block grant money "insulting to taxpayers." Photo Credit: File photo
Pound Ridge Supervisor Richard Lyman.
Pound Ridge Supervisor Richard Lyman. Photo Credit: File photo

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Westchester County government characterized the recent U.S. Court of Appeals decision as further proof the county had not discriminated while providing affordable housing.

After last month's ruling, County Executive Rob Astorino declared on Sept. 25: “This is a big victory for Westchester County. This vindicates our fight to protect home rule and local zoning."

But several other elected officials say the appeals court decision actually agreed that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development had the right to withhold community development block grants.

Pound Ridge Supervisor Richard Lyman said Westchester lost on all three points upon which it brought the lawsuit.

Lyman cited page 52 of the decision, which reads: "HUD is authorized to reallocate the County’s FY 2013 funds forthwith. As to the County’s FY 2014 funds, however, HUD is directed to delay reallocating those funds until after the County exhausts its right to seek further review of this decision."

Lyman reacted: "Seizing upon that one paragraph and spinning it into a major win is akin to (George) Pickett claiming his charge a success because there was still a Confederate soldier left standing (in the Battle of Gettysburg)."

County Legislator Ken Jenkins, a Yonkers Democrat, agreed with Lyman, who is a Republican. Jenkins called Astorino's comments made to lohud.com about the lost community grant money "insulting to taxpayers."

"Rob Astorino’s administration has failed to live up to the 2009 settlement to build 750 units of affordable housing before 2016,'' Jenkins said in a press statement. "Even though the County is on track to meet its goals, Rob Astorino will continue to fight the requirement, costing taxpayers over $10 million."

Since 2011, over $11 million of funding slated for Westchester County efforts has been reallocated to other parts of the country and the newest ruling allowed HUD to reallocate another $5 million of Westchester’s funding from 2013.

“As the recent Second Circuit Court decision indicates, there are consequences to following Westchester’s Court strategy: individuals and non-profits which need this money have now lost it. The County Executive’s comment that this money is not important is as callous as it is ignorant,'' Jenkins said.

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