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Westchester County Files Lawsuit Over $7.4M HUD Funds

Westchester County has a lawsuit in federal court Friday to try to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from reallocating $7.4 million in federal funds.
Westchester County has a lawsuit in federal court Friday to try to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from reallocating $7.4 million in federal funds. Photo Credit: File Photo

Update 2 p.m.: U.S. District Judge Denise Cole denied a temporary injunction request by Westchester County to stop HUD from reallocating $7.4 million in funds, saying there was still time for the county to comply with the settlement, The Journal News reported .

HUD spokesperson Brian Sullivan told The Daily Voice Friday afternoon the department had not yet made a final decision to reallocate the funds. The funds must be allocated to Westchester or another community by September or else they will be lost, Sullivan said.

"For more than three years, HUD has attempted to work in good faith with the County to satisfy its civil rights obligations," a statement issued by Sullivan said. "Contrary to the County’s complaint, HUD is not making any final determination to reallocate $7.4 million in federal assistance to the County.  Rather, we are beginning a process of reallocating these resources to other communities should the County continue to fall short of its fair housing requirements. WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Westchester County filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday to try to block the Department of Housing and Urban Development from reallocating $7.4 million in federal funds.

HUD previously threatened to reallocate the funds because it said the county has not complied with the Housing Settlement in addressing exclusionary zoning and source-of-income legislation.

“HUD is not allowed to make up its own rules for this money,” County Executive Robert Astorino said. “Westchester is entitled to fairness and due process just like every other community in the country. What makes matters worse is that HUD is hurting the very people it claims it is always trying to help. This money is designated for some of Westchester’s neediest residents including the homeless and those facing foreclosure. This is HUD behaving badly – both legally and morally – and the county, on a bi-partisan basis, is going to court to stop it.”

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled against the county in early April, saying it violated the terms of the Housing Settlement when Astorino vetoed a bill banning discrimination against renters for using public assistance, such as Section 8 vouchers, to pay rent.

County officials have repeatedly argued that local zoning laws are not exclusionary. Astorino recently called for the Board of Legislators to submit source-of-income legislation.