The Future of Fair Housing in Westchester- Is it Really Fair?

[NOTE – the views in the following article miss the very heart of Fair Housing laws — and of a City’s/County’s duties to overcome impediments to Fair Housing]

Rob Astorino, Westchester County Executive, has been at an impasse with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for some time. On Friday, he accused the Federal Government of overstepping its boundaries in trying to desegregate housing in our county.

Back in 2009, Westchester entered into a landmark desegregation agreement where they agreed to create housing for moderate-income people in overwhelmingly white communities and market them to minorities. Today, this description has been changed to include moderate-income housing for the workforce of the community.

During the 2009 agreement, Westchester County was then to pay over $51 million for the creation of the housing units, as well as over $7 million to the agency which filed the lawsuit.

As real estate agents, we are expected to abide by all fair housing laws. That means we cannot discriminate against buyers or sellers based on race, religion, familial status, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, citizenship or domestic abuse victimization. We also cannot steer people into a community we happen to think are better “suited” for them.

The basis of the agreement Westchester County reached, however, seems to technically work against the fair housing laws we have been taught by making the people of the community discriminate against the current residents.

Based on the fair housing laws, people find it difficult to understand how Westchester County might be discriminating and desegregating people in several of its communities. After all, the people of these communities were not limiting anyone in the protected classes from living and/or purchasing properties in the community. Several of the communities in question include Scarsdale, Rye, Bronxville, Eastchester, Larchmont and Bedford.

Read more at the Scarsdale Patch


About Bob Voelker

Head of the Munsch Hardt (Dallas law firm) Hospitality & Mixed Use Development Group, and former developer of affordable housing. I'm i
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