(WHITE PLAINS, NY) A special meeting of the Board of Legislators was held this morning to vote on spending housing settlement funds on 10 affordable housing units in the Town of Mamaroneck with the hope that they would be counted in the housing settlement with HUD. The vote failed to pass with a supermajority which was needed because several legislators believed it too risky to commit $3 million of taxpayer dollars to a project that had serious doubts attached as to whether they would be counted by the court.  The units in question have already been designated as affordable housing as a result of an agreement between the developer and the Town.  Stipulations of that agreement call for these units to be reserved for workforce housing in the community.  The five county legislators all agreed that since Mamaroneck would still gain 10 units of affordable housing due to the good work of the local officials, the County did not have to risk County taxpayers $3 million. 

As a result of the pre-existing agreement between the developer and Mamaroneck, the local Legislator, Catherine Parker (D-Rye) and others, did not feel that these units would meet the criteria of the settlement, which prevents an over reliance on the use of pre-existing units for the settlement.  Paragraph 7 of the settlement states that, “No more than 25% of the total number of affordable AFFH Units described in this paragraph may be achieved through the acquisition of existing housing units provided that…no such units, before acquisition, may be controlled by a deed restriction or other legal measure to be affordable to households with incomes at or below 80% of AMI.” The units the County had proposed to purchase fell under this category and therefore left reasonable doubt that it would count towards completion of the settlement.  

These units would cost the County $3 million to purchase, which would be paid by the funds attached to the settlement but if the independent, court-appointed monitor says that these units do not fit the criteria of the settlement, County taxpayers could have been on the hook for an additional $3 million to pay for these units out of another funding stream.

“I was always taught to measure twice and cut once and without any sort of indicator from the monitor or the court, I’m not willing to risk $3 million of taxpayer money on units that are going to be built and marketed as affordable no matter what,” Legislator Parker explained.

Westchester County is coming to the end of the period where they were required to build 750 units of affordable housing.  By many accounts, the County is not far from reaching that goal.

“With the end in sight, I’m not sure that going forward with a $3 million expenditure that may not count in the eyes of the court is a wise use of money.  I’m glad these units will be affordable as a result of the Town’s efforts, but I believe the County should find units that are certain to be counted towards the settlement when we are this close to completion,” Parker concluded.