Jim Russell responds to HUD’s court appointed monitor Attorney James Johnson’s comments about the HUD fair-housing settlement:
Editorial Spotlight on fair-housing settlement planned …The Journal News
[Attorney Johnson's] phrase, “…its overarching goal of building a more integrated Westchester,” does not appear in the settlement document. As Johnson’s interpretation, it should have no bearing on the settlement. Before the County Board of Legislators voted for this disastrous settlement, they claimed that even if all of the selected housing applicants ended up being White, the terms of the settlement would be fulfilled. Now we see slippery Johnson, with his foot in the door, trying to change the agreement into one in which the result would have to be “a more integrated Westchester.” The best solution is to elect a new Congress that will amend all housing laws to exclude any requirement to “affirmatively further fair housing.”
As Jim Russell predicted last year, HUD is using the Westchester housing settlement to attack other neighborhoods—and even the State of Texas.
While HUD has announced it will publish a proposed regulation toughening AFFH substantive and procedural requirements later this year, the agency has already become active in reviewing recipients’ certifications and performance. The most notable instances involve St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana; the State of Texas; and the City of Joliet, Illinois. All three involve litigation or administrative complaints by grassroots advocates, alleging discrimination on the basis of race or national origin, and the failure to identify and analyze impediments experienced by people in those protected classes.
- In Louisiana, HUD threatened to withhold hurricane recovery funds to rebuild a hospital because St. Bernard had adopted a series of racially discriminatory ordinances with respect to multifamily housing.
- In Texas, HUD rejected the state’s plan to spend $1.7 billion in disaster recovery money, in part because its seven-year old AI did not comply with federal requirements.
- In Illinois, HUD has taken enforcement action against the City of Joliet because the city allegedly used its eminent domain power in a discriminatory fashion to shut down affordable housing inhabited almost exclusively by low-income, African-American single mothers.
Below are my comments to the Board of Legislators
Chairman Ryan, Members of the Board of Legislators:
This evening I come before you once again to urge you to vote against the proposed housing settlement.
Four–hundred years ago, in 1609, Henry Hudson sailed up the river that now bears his name, and set into motion a series of events that led to the establishment of this county. Today you have the power to preserve and advance this beautiful and historic county . . . OR to set into motion a different series of events . . . . events that will lead to the irreversible demise of Westchester County.
You have a choice this evening, not an enviable one to be sure, but a choice that some might describe as between “the devil you know and the devil you don’t.”
On the one hand you have an oppressive and ambiguous 38-page settlement document which could be implemented by a court-appointed monitor in many unpredictable ways.
For example, upon a closer reading, Section 7(d)
¹of the settlement agreement sets no minimum income for potential renters—only maximum incomes of 65 and 50 percent of the Area Median Income.
Is it merely coincidental that Section (g) of Paragraph 33 obliges the County to promote legislation, already discussed here at the last meeting, which would ban so-called “source-of-income” discrimination?
According to the 2009 County Income and Rent Guidelines: “To assure that a broad range of families can afford to rent any unit, the County encourages that rents be set to be affordable to families with incomes below the maximum income limits.”
To me, these seem to be the basic ingredients for a monitor to order the inclusion of Section 8 Housing in the proposed rental units—so much for the “middle-class housing” spin.
The alternative to this Pandora’s box of unnerving unknowns is to vote sensibly against the proposal, returning the case to court, where there remains the possibility of success, whether in the current case or on appeal.
The worst possible consequence of returning the case to court is at least a known quantity, a judgment that will result in an increase of less than 1.5% of one’s overall property tax for a period of ten years.
The choice is clear. For the good of Westchester County, please vote against the settlement.
Would you like a HUD Housing Project built next door to you?
Over 1,100 American neighborhoods will soon be under assault—not from gangs or criminals—but from the Obama administration. The recently approved housing settlement between Westchester County, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Justice is an outrageous precedent which reflects the radical ideologies of the government bureaucrats and elected officials who concocted it. The settlement would give tremendous power to a HUD “Monitor,” who could pre-empt any local ordinances that stand in the way of HUD’s notion of how a neighborhood should be configured.
Remarks of Jim Russell before the Westchester County Board of Legislators
Chairman Jenkins, Members of the Board of Legislators and Fellow Westchester Residents:
Today, February 22, 2010, marks the 278th anniversary of the birth of our First President, George Washington, who led his Revolutionary War patriots into battle not far from where we are assembled this evening. Washington and his soldiers did not risk their lives to secure freedom from Great Britain, only to then subject our states and counties to an equal or greater federal tyranny. And yet, that is what the legislation before you tonight would do. It would allow this County to seize our land for subsidized housing, land that would normally revert back to the individual towns and cites of Westchester.
Just because a housing settlement was approved by last year’s Board, should not compel you to vote for this revision, since this is a reorganized Board with new members and a new chairman.
An informal poll conducted by News12 last week asked:
How long do you think it will take Westchester County to comply with the federal housing order?
Of the 289 people who responded:
9% felt it would take 1-7 years
40% felt it would take more than 7 years
And a full 50% of those who responded indicated that they wanted to fight the housing settlement.
I had hoped that this housing debacle would have attracted the involvement of Westchester’s congressional delegation, who might have offered to intervene with the federal government on our behalf—but where have they been? Where is John Hall, where is Eliot Engel, and where-o- where is the usually omnipresent Nita Lowey when it comes to the housing settlement?
Westchester residents who oppose this settlement must demand that their local elected officials contest each and every step by the County and its federal monitor to implement an oppressive and intrusive experiment in social engineering, which likely conflicts with our NY State Constitution and which may very well violate the United States Constitution.
For my part, I will be a candidate for Congress, and if elected, I will introduce legislation which would amend those federal statutes upon which this settlement is based.
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¹ 7(d) At least fifty (50) percent of the Affordable AFFH Units shall be rental units, of which rental units at least twenty (20) percent shall be affordable to and occupied by households with incomes at or below fifty (50) percent of Area Median Income (“AMI”), with the remainder of such rental units affordable to and occupied by households with incomes at or below sixty-five (65) percent of AMI.