FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 | 914-815-4462 (cell)
Westchester Legislators Chairman Jenkins Reminds BOL Colleagues of Modifications to Source of Income Legislation
White Plains, NY – In a special memorandum sent today to his colleagues on the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL), Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) outlined and described all of the modifications that were made to the Source of Income legislation, from the time he introduced the bill in August 2008 to its enactment by the Board of Legislators in June 2010.
“The Source of Income legislation received more scrutiny by the County Board than any other local law in recent years,” Jenkins notes in his memo. “In addition to numerous committee meetings, there were several public hearings, with a variety of stakeholders providing comment including landlords, tenants, realtors, tenant advocacy groups and business groups.”
Jenkins also adds that during a process of “extensive discussion and comment,” the legislation was re-drafted several times, ultimately resulting in the June 2010 legislation with the modifications provided below.
“These changes narrowed the reach of the legislation by removing the law’s application to a substantial number of landlords and housing accommodations,” writes Jenkins. “However, the final version enacted in June 2010 balanced the needs of landlords and the real estate industry with the important public objectives of eliminating unlawful housing discrimination towards those most in need.”
Jenkins says that he is pleased that “the legislative process succeeded in producing a law that can immediately help to end housing discrimination,” but warns that further debate “will delay potential relief to injured parties, as well as jeopardize the County’s compliance under the Housing Stipulation of Settlement and the issuance of federal funds to the County and its municipalities.”
The Source of Income legislation was passed by the BOL in June 2010 but vetoed by County Executive Astorino.
Astorino has been asked to speak with the BOL at a joint meeting of the Legislation and Community Services committees meeting on Monday to “cause the legislation to come into being,” as directed by the federal appeals court. Westchester County was notified by HUD 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. HUD has since declared that the County’s 2013 CDBG funds, now totaling $17 million, are also at risk.
The memo concludes with Jenkins urging his BOL colleagues to promptly approve the legislation “which this Honorable Board previously enacted.”
MODIFICATIONS TO SOURCE OF INCOME LEGISLATION
The Law Does Not Apply to Buildings of Four (4) or Less Apartments.
Landlords May Use Reasonable Business Judgment in Evaluating Tenants.
Landlords May Consider Level of Income in Evaluating Tenants.
The Law Does Not Apply to Cooperative Apartments and Condominiums.
The Types of Income that the Law Protects Has Been Limited.
The Potential Penalties for Violations of the Law Are Significantly Reduced.
The Law Will Sunset in Five (5) Years Unless Re-enacted and Includes a 180-Day Phase-In Period
The County Will Conduct Public Education and Outreach to Inform the Public of the Law.
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