Friday, April 21, 2017

HUD Tells Wealthy Surburban Westchester County That Having Single Family Residential Areas Is Discrimination Against Minorities: County Should Allow More Multi-Family (Apartment) Buildings

The following letter from HUD to Westchester County represents everything that is wrong with HUD and US housing policy.

In the HUD letter, the first two towns mentioned are Pound Ridge and Larchmont.

Pound Ridge has about 5200 people, about 1850 households, a median HH income of about $190,000 and a median home price of over $850,000.

Larchmont has about 6100 people, about 2300 households, a median HH income of about $150,000 and a median home price of over $1 million.

HUD Lettter excerpts:
Kevin I. Plunkett
Deputy County Executive
Westchester County
148 Martine Avenue, 9th Floor
White Plains, NY 10601

Re: United States ex rel. Anti-Discrimination Center v. Westchester County
06 civ. 2860 (DLC) Zoning Analysis

Dear Mr. Plunkett:

The US. Department of Housing and Urban Development has received your March 20, 2017 submission entitled "Westchester County Analysis of Impediments Supplement to Chapter 12 Zoning Analysis" ("AI Supplement"). HUD has reviewed the Al Supplement and determined that it is unacceptable because it continues to lack appropriate analyses of impediments to fair housing choice and fails to identify forward-looking strategies to overcome those impediments.
***
a. Failure to Address Segregation of White Residents

The AI Supplement focuses on "concentration" of minority residents but fails to analyze areas of white segregation. The discussion regarding Larchmont illustrates the problem. Nearly half of the acreage in the Village is dedicated to "high-density single~family" housing, while only 8% is dedicated to multifamily housing. Almost all of - 90% of the Village's acres is zoned for single family residential use and has an African American population of less than 1%. This indicates that African American residents are barely represented while white residents are overwhelmingly represented. Yet, the County fails to analyze whether zoning is a factor. [Footnote omitted.]

The analysis of Pound Ridge suffers from the same narrow focus. See pages 3-60 - 64. Pound Ridge does not allow any multifamily development as of right and there are only 17 multifamily units in the Town. Pound Ridge is 93.7% white and the housing stock is 99.2%
single-family. The AI Supplement concludes that there are no concentrations of African American or Hispanic residents and, therefore, the "zoning provisions are not posing as a barrier to diversification." Page 3-63. This conclusion is highly suspect. The concentration of white residents and the impact of limited multifamily development in Pound Ridge should have been addressed.
***
Conclusion

HUD finds that the Al Supplement is unacceptable and that the AI, therefore, does not satisfy the Settlement. HUD recognizes that the County will be unable to correct the above-described deficiencies in time to meet the Court's April 10, 2017 deadline to produce an AI that is acceptable to HUD. As such, notwithstanding the long history related to this litigation, HUD would not oppose a reasonable extension should the County seek one from the Court.

Sincerely,

Jay Golden
Regional Director
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
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To HUD, it seems, being richer than the poor and living in a residential community of expensive single family homes is discriminatory.

It gets funnier (or sadder). Pound Ridge does not have sewers (homes use septic systems), a nearby commuter railroad to NYC, or other public transportation. It is one of the towns that is a signer of the EPA and DEC approved NYC Watershed Compact, which protects NYC water reservoir sources. The agreement restricts development and increases in impervious surfaces because it will increase runoff and the presence of not easily filtered pollutants (e.g., salt) into NYC water. Pound Ridge and private developers are limited by law and agreement in pursuing further development of land.

In perspective, many Westchester towns have a population equal to one or two Manhattan NYC square blocks with high-rise apartment, co-op or condo buildings. Can you imagine HUD coming into NYC and telling it that certain square blocks on the upper East Side or upper West Side of Manhattan, along Central Park West or Fifth Avenue, were discriminatory because the tenant mix of each expensive rental, co-op, or condo building did not match the national average of minorities without any showing that a member of a minority with the financial means to afford the high cost was rejected? That is about the equivalent of what HUD is saying to Westchester County.

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