Excerpts from Monitor's July 2010 Submission to the Court

Westchester Case

From the Monitor’s July 7, 2010 submission to the Court:

“The revised submission still falls short of a true plan to comply with either the [consent decree’s] specific terms or its overarching goal of building a more integrated Westchester” (p. 10).

“The County uses the term ‘fair and affordable’ throughout its submissions to the Monitor, as well as on its website.  Although this term at first may appear to address the County’s AFFH obligations under the [consent decree], the County also uses the label on its website to describe housing developments that completely lack an AFFH component…The term ‘fair and affordable’ conflates fair housing with affordable housing and obscures the County’s obligations to AFFH.  Going forward, the County should use the precise language of the [consent decree] — ‘Affordable AFFH Units’ — when referring to the housing it is required to develop under the Stipulation. The distinction is not merely semantic. Clarity is vital to the public’s understanding of, and confidence in, the County’s efforts to meet its obligations under the [consent decree]” (p. 23-24).

County “inquiries regarding specific developments highlight the County’s lack of an overall strategy to ‘maximize the development of Affordable AFFH Units in the eligible municipalities and census blocks with the lowest concentrations of African American and Hispanic residents’ [as required by the consent decree]” (p. 25).

“The IP should also include the County’s strategy as to how the 750 (or more) units will be distributed throughout the eligible municipalities. Significantly, the Revised IP does not indicate that the County has complied with the Stipulation requirements that it promote ‘sustainable, inclusive communities’ (¶ 22(a)) or, significantly, how it plans to ‘maximize the development of Affordable AFFH Units in the eligible municipalities and census blocks with the lowest concentrations of African American and Hispanicresidents’ [as required by paragraph 22(f) of the consent decree]” (p. 12).

“The [consent decree] explicitly states that the County ‘shall use all available means as appropriate,’ including ‘pursuing legal action,’ to address a municipality’s failure to act to promote the objectives of paragraph 7 (which lays out the general requirements for the required AFFH units), or actions that hinder those objectives. ¶ 7(j). However, the Revised IP contains merely a recitation of this requirement, rather than any meaningful exploration of what shape such legal action might take. Revised IP at 9” (p. 16). 

“The County’s model ordinance, as currently worded, continues to include impermissible preferences for local seniors, employees, and volunteers. Preferences for seniors (who reside in the municipality or whose immediate family members reside in the municipality) would preserve the demographic status quo, directly cutting against the County’s obligation to AFFH” (p. 13).

“The Revised IP continues to demonstrate a lack of creativity as to how the County plans to encourage municipalities to comply with the terms of the [consent decree]” (p. 15).

“For purposes of making determinations as to the withholding of discretionary funding or other penalties, the IP should define what constitutes non-cooperation and formulate a process for executing the appropriate penalty.  For example, the IP should indicate that those municipalities that do not cooperate by meeting certain clearly defined benchmarks will be ineligible for funding for a defined period” (p. 16).

“More generally, the County should consider requiring municipalities to report on obstacles to developing the Affordable AFFH Units, including identifying the steps that can be taken to overcome these obstacles.  Noncompliance with this reporting requirement would trigger the penalties available for overall failure to comply with the terms of the [consent decree].  At a minimum, the IP should include the County’s plan for monitoring local approval processes and municipalities’ cooperation with the County’s efforts to implement the [consent decree]” (pp. 16-17).

“To be most effective, the [Affirmative] Marketing and Outreach Area should be expanded to include those New York City boroughs with a higher percentage of African-Americans or Hispanics than that of Westchester County as a whole”(p.  18). 

“Revised IP still fails to spell out long-range timetables beyond the numerical goals for unit financing and permits as already set forth in the [consent decree]” (p. 11).

The “Revised IP lacks concrete medium- and long-term strategies for how the County plans to develop at least 750 Affordable AFFH Units as required by the [consent decree]” (p. 11).

“The Monitor directs the County to engage an outside agency or agencies to assist both with (1) outreach and marketing to potential residents of the AFFH units; and (2) general outreach to current residents of the eligible municipalities about the benefits of inclusive communities.” (p. 19).

“Other than a brief mention of ‘housing counseling,’ Revised IP at 21, the Revised IP lacks a discussion of housing mobility outreach and counseling for new residents moving into low-poverty, high-opportunity areas for the first time. This assistance will be vital to ensuring that those who move into the Affordable AFFH units can make the most of the increased opportunities available in their new communities” (p. 19). 

“The Monitor urges the County to consult outside experts regarding, at a minimum, housing finance (particularly the use of a revolving loan fund), zoning, and marketing” (p. 20).