FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 1, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)
Westchester Legislators Approve Public Hearing to Advance Astorino’s Source of Income Legislation
Action Will Protect Municipalities and Not-for-Profits from Losing Federal Block Grant Funds
White Plains, NY – The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) unanimously approved a resolution by a vote of 12-0 this morning to set a public hearing on County Executive Rob Astorino’s Source of Income legislation, which will take place at the next regular meeting of the BOL on Monday, May 6, 2013 at 7:30 PM.
Today’s vote advances the bill that Astorino submitted to the BOL legislation last week, which would amend the Laws of Westchester County to ban discrimination against potential homeowners and renters based on their source of income.
The legislation, which the BOL originally passed in June 2010, was vetoed by Astorino, who maintained his vocal opposition to the bill through his State of the County address delivered on April 23, 2013. Nonetheless, clear language in the fair and affordable housing settlement between Westchester County and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states the County Executive is bound by law to promote the legislation.
Westchester County was notified by HUD in March that it would risk having $7.4 million in 2011 Community Development Block Grant funds reallocated if Astorino failed to take steps toward promoting Source of Income legislation by April 25, 2013.
“The County Executive’s Source of Income legislation needs to be advanced as quickly as possible to send HUD a message that we’re serious and eager about working together to follow the stipulations of the housing settlement,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “Municipalities and not-for-profit organizations around the county are set to lose millions of dollars otherwise, and that will invariably end up hurting taxpayers. Fast action was called for, and today the Board delivered it.”
Jenkins added that he will be scheduling a Committee of the Whole meeting so that the legislators could discuss and possibly modify the bill as they see fit before it receives full BOL consideration.
Recently, a federal judge ordered that Astorino submit the Source of Income legislation to the BOL and agree to sign it into law as part of his duties to promote the bill in regard to the stipulations of the fair and affordable housing settlement between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Westchester County.
“It’s about time the County Executive got around to this,” said Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL Budget & Appropriation Committee.
“We need to move forward to avoid dire financial consequences for the County, and I’m glad that the process is at last underway,” said Legislator and BOL Majority Whip MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson).
“To protect taxpayers from a federal court judgment of over five hundred million dollars, it is imperative that we move the County Executive’s Source of Income legislation forward as quickly as possible,” said Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains), chair of the BOL Legislation Committee. “Further delay puts taxpayers at greater risk.”
BOL Vice Chair Lyndon Williams (D-Mount Vernon) said: “This is legislation that will benefit countless Westchester residents, and I find it deplorable that they have had to wait years for the County Executive to finally do the right thing for them.”
“I’m concerned that, over the years, Mr. Astorino has typified Source of Income legislation as being merely a protection for residents using Section 8 housing vouchers, when, in fact, the bill will help all kinds of residents, including retirees, the disabled and veterans,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh). “Folks who worked hard and put their tax dollars into the system for decades shouldn’t be vilified. They earned government assistance, like Social Security benefits. Let’s not allow them to be discriminated against.”
“The eyes of history are watching us,” noted BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “It is critical for the future of Westchester County that we pass this legislation that the County Executive said he will sign to ensure his compliance and obligation under the housing settlement. The stakes are too high for us to fail in this regard.”
Five legislators—Minority Whip Gordon Burrows (R-Yonkers), John Testa (R-Peekskill), David Gelfarb (R-Rye Brook), Michael Smith (R-White Plains) and Virginia Perez (D-Yonkers)—were absent from today’s BOL meeting.
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