As he presses a lawsuit over 2011 community development grants, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is asking for authorization to sue the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development again over grants from 2012 and 2013.
The grants, which are set aside for low income communities, have been withheld as the county and HUD fight over the county’s compliance with a 2009 settlement of fair housing complaints. The 2011 grants, more than $7 million worth, have been reallocated to other jurisdictions in the New York metro area but the county is still in federal court fighting the principle of the case.
The Board of Legislators must approve the lawsuit and will consider the request in committee in the coming weeks.
HUD has withheld the grants after rejecting the county’s analysis of zoning in Westchester municipalities as inadequate, saying that the county’s conclusion that there is no exclusionary zoning isn’t supported by the evidence. County Attorney Robert Meehan argued in a letter to the board in support of the authorization request that HUD is acting arbitrarily and is violating a law that says the grants can’t be conditioned on the adoption of a specific law or regulation.
The 2012 grants could be reallocated in the fall when their appropriation expires.
In addition to the $7 million from 2011, the grants total more than $10.5 million for 2012 and 2013 in the Community Development Block Grant program, the HOME Investment Partnership program and the Emergency Solutions Grant program. The county also seeks to challenge the decision to withhold $3 million in Lead Hazard Reduction grants.