Westchester showing 'progress' on affordable-housing compliance, federal monitor says
Westchester County officials are showing "progress" in encouraging the construction of affordable housing in its whitest communities, a federal monitor tapped to watch over the county said in a statement to Newsday on Tuesday.
James Johnson, who is overseeing the county's compliance with a 2009 legal settlement with federal housing officials, said that a report he filed Monday updating the county's efforts "also shows that in a number of areas there is more work to be done."
Westchester County's agreement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calls for the county to put 750 new affordable-housing units into the residential pipeline by 2016.
More Westchester headlines
| Westchester plans expo on affordable housing
| Report alleges housing bias in Westchester
VIDEO: Yonkers affordable housing | Rockland cuts ribbon on new apartments | County executive changes position on affordable housing
In his report, Johnson takes stock of projects on the books through the end of last year and recaps ongoing conflicts, ranging from general issues related to zoning problems and finding suitable locations.
There is also friction between HUD and the county, which balked at HUD's demands that landlords be required to accept Section 8 housing vouchers for rent as well as the federal government's recommendation that county officials sue municipalities to force them to comply with the settlement's requirements for new units.
County officials said they need more time to analyze Johnson's report.
"We received the report late last night, and we're still reviewing it," county spokesman Phil Oliva said.
In meeting the settlement's requirements, 305 new affordable-housing units have their financing in place, including 175 that received the necessary building permits to begin construction, Oliva said. An additional 75 have entered the approval process and are before the county's Planning Board.
At the end of the 37-page report, Johnson noted that the building process would benefit from publishing a how-to document and building an information database that would be a "tool kit of approaches, practices and solutions that could be put to good use by municipal officials, architects, developers and the public in evaluating a design program."
In October, Johnson asked HUD officials to provide $70,000 to develop the tool kit, a project that also would include a design advisory committee and the hiring of a project team that would report to Johnson. The request still has not been funded, according to Johnson.