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Westchester, HUD fight over affordable housing lawsuit settlement

NEWS 12 WESTCHESTER: The county agreed to build affordable housing in a federal lawsuit settlement. (August 14, 2012)

Three years have passed since Westchester County agreed to build 750 affordable housing units in wealthy communities as part of a lawsuit settlement, and federal officials say the county still isn't complying with parts of the agreement.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) intervened in a case originally brought upon Westchester by a Manhattan-based anti-discrimination group. The out-of-court settlement signed by Westchester County officials three years ago calls for 750 units of affordable housing to be created in the county over a seven-year period. The housing must also must be marketed to minorities.

Even though Westchester has succeeded in creating affordable housing, the county and HUD are still fighting in court.

HUD officials say the county has failed to comply with two key provisions. One centers on County Executive Rob Astorino's veto of legislation that would ban discrimination based on one's source of income. Astorino says he's not required to sign the legislation and feels the measure he was given is unconstitutional.

Federal officials are also demanding that the county take steps to remove local zoning regulations that would interfere with construction of any affordable housing. Meanwhile, Astorino says HUD officials haven't come up with examples of unfair restrictive zoning and just assume any restrictions are illegal.

When asked for clarification of HUD's position on the zoning issues, officials told News 12 Westchester that they want action on any regulation that would inhibit affordable housing.

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