Does Westchester County Need 10,000 Affordable Housing Units?

  • Comments (35)
More than 100 Westchester County residents packed Bedford Town Court House Wednesday night.
More than 100 Westchester County residents packed Bedford Town Court House Wednesday night. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella
Blue Mountain Housing Development Corp’s Tom McGrath opened up the discussion.
Blue Mountain Housing Development Corp’s Tom McGrath opened up the discussion. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella
North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas talked about the affordable housing projects in North Salem.
North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas talked about the affordable housing projects in North Salem. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella
Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy talked about the affordable housing projects in Somers.
Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy talked about the affordable housing projects in Somers. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella
Land Use Law Center’s Tiffany Zezula asked the audience how affordable housing in Westchester County could be furthered.
Land Use Law Center’s Tiffany Zezula asked the audience how affordable housing in Westchester County could be furthered. Photo Credit: Michael Nocella

BEDFORD, N.Y. – More than 100 Westchester County residents packed Bedford Town Court House Wednesday night, as town supervisors, housing agencies and land use law experts weighed in on Westchester County’s affordable housing situation.


Is Westchester County In Need Of 10,000 Affordable Housing Units?

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Is Westchester County In Need Of 10,000 Affordable Housing Units?

  • Yes, just look at the studies.

  • No, 750 is more than enough.

  • More than 750, but less than 10,000.

  • There should be no affordable housing at all.

  • I'm indifferent.

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In the public forum dubbed “Furthering Fair & Affordable Housing,” Blue Mountain Housing Development Corp’s Tom McGrath and Land Use Law Center’s Tiffany Zezula led a discussion to go over the county’s progress so far, with slide shows on the 107 units already in use throughout Cortlandt Manor, Rye and Pelham.

North Salem Supervisor Warren Lucas and Somers Town Supervisor Mary Beth Murphy explained the situations in their municipalities before the public got a chance to weigh in.

North Castle Town Supervisor Howard Arden, New Castle Town Supervisor Susan Carpenter and Bedford Town Supervisor Lee Roberts were also in attendance.

As most Westchester County residents know by now, the county was issued a state-mandated affordable housing settlement under which a total of 750 units of affordable housing in 31 communities that have been identified as “majority white” by 2016. With over 300 units already occupied, developed or adopted by the beginning of 2013, the county is right on track.

However, the question at hand isn’t so much about the 750 units—those will be built and are well on there way to being built.

The real question seems to be “How much affordable does Westchester County need and how much can it support?” According to multiple studies and the recently founded organization “Homes for Westchester,” the answer—and goal—is 10,000 units.

“There was a study done years ago that showed Westchester County has a need for 10,000 affordable housing units over a ten-year period,” said Housing Action Council Executive Director Rose Noonan

“That has gotten lost because of the 750 number. Yes, the county needs 750 units—but there’s also a need for so much more throughout Westchester County, not just the 31 selected municipalities,” she added.

While Zezula attempted to lead a public questioning period to focus on “How can we further affordable housing in Westchester County?” the questions asked were more of the for-or-against variety.

One resident who chose not to give their name suggested, “It sounds like the county is going out of its way to bring people to live here who can’t afford to live here. That's not the way it works. If Harvard starting letting students with C's into their school, it wouldn't be a very good school.”

Deputy Director of Westchester Residential Opportunities Andrea Kalusner said that is the type of logic that must be dissolved if the county is going to add more affordable housing.

“We need to dispel the myths of the people who are buying affordable housing,” she said. “This is not a black-white issue.”

Local resident and Blue Mountain Housing Corp volunteer Julie Stern agreed.

“Who wants to live here? The people that already live here,” she said. “A big part of affordable housing is making it more affordable for the people already living here, so they can keep living here.”

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Comments (35)

It literally is no exaggeration, to say that our government is going out of its way, to plant the seeds of ghettos into "majority white" areas. Think about that. Zero exaggeration. Scary.

The federal lawsuit, and the whole concept that the "white" towns of Westchester must have affordable housing imposed upon them for their racist views is coming from the Obama Justice Department and Eric Holder. In politics, you will reap what you sow. Anyone who voted for Obama also voted for government-imposed, racially-based "affordable" housing and, in my opinion, has no right to complain about it now. You voted for this man, Northern Westchester, and now we are all going to pay the price in many different ways.

I live in the Town of Bedford. I have no less than 3 immediate neighbors on my street who were or are now in foreclosure and one family receives food stamps. This Town may be the home of some uber rich residents, but it also has regular folks.

We do not need to advertise outside of our county to find people in need of affordable housing and to do so is discriminatory to those in need who already live here and pay the unbearably high taxes.

We also do not need to pave paradise to put up a parking lot for multifamily homes. All of the "affordable housing" should be single family homes and the residents should pay the taxes the rest of us pay.

Danigirl would like to live here but so would many other people. But if they all moved here, it would be overcrowded. We who do live here paid to have a less crowded environment.

Danigirl is welcome to work a bit, as I did, save some money, then rent or buy what she can afford. That's the same deal everyone got. If Westchester used to be cheaper, maybe now is the time for her to move to the next place on the rise, pay her money and take her chances the way it's always been.

This proposal that Wch needs 10,000 affordable units is just to take the pressure off the fact that we don't need 750 either. Basically Danigirl is saying that our property values should go down so she can afford a place here. And she may also imagine as a young woman approaching her childbearing years that we should build it near the school of her choice so we can pay the property taxes to educate her kids. No, that's not fair. If she wants to provide that school for her children, she needs to buy or rent at market rates in the district.

Thank God for home rule, we Towns can just ignore the nonsense that the County is going through! We Towns are not parties to the Consent Agreement and have no obligations under it, and we should remember that!

affordable housing's intent is not to make it available for a college student just graduating....

and apropos of that end of the thread -- when i graduated from college (back when the primordial soup was still cooling) my annual salary at the National Institutes of Health as a research associate, was $7,800. I had 2 roommates in a 2 bedroom apt (I got to share the larger room w/ one of the others); and our rent, back in that century was 200.00 a month. We all owned cars because we lived in a city that had no public transportation; and drove to work.

Not to be entirely contrarian about this, but why does every community need to be satisfactory to every socio ethnic anthropoligical group in the world? Like lives with like, which is what defines us, and we can't change it. In the animal kingdom, Apes live apes; Baboons live with baboons; elephants live with elephants. Birds of a feather.

So, in forcing Westchester, by writ of some governmental intervention, to accommodate this artificial living arrangement, we will all be better for it? Really? how.

I've heard the argument -- that people who support these towns (police, teachers) can't afford to live in the towns they work in. Well, right. And this is why we have transportation. I can't afford to live in the community I work in (wall st) so I commute. OK?

And, here's a newsflash, distasteful as it sounds -- affordable housing brings crime to the unaffordable housing in which the other half lives.

What the hell,turn another beautiful town into a hell hole.Affordable housing only attracts the finest people,just look at Peekskill,Mt.Vernon,Portchester,Greenwich.Just go to Armstrong court,Bohman towers,south seventh or Ryan ave. after the sun goes down to see what fine upstanding citizens live in affordable housing

This concept is so ridiculous that it is difficult to comment. I work hard to provide for my family - and have made many sacrifices along the way in order to make ends meet. Nobody ever gave me squat, and i do not expect anything. If you want to live somewhere, earn it - there is so much opportunity in the great USA. Government should not have any say in where people live - they want to give you things, and control you. There is already so much wasted money through government programs. This is another example of a dumb idea, pushed by dumb and selfish politicians.

Dani-girl, know what I had to do to get "affordable" housing? I got a second job. I did what I had to do to put my family in a better place. Try it, it's actually very rewarding when you earn it, instead of demand it

I'm just afraid that Rachel 13's advice about not living in Westchester is going to apply to the whole country one day. Lets take the racial black/white thing out of this because it doesn't matter if the people are green or blue. Anyone of any race is going to take free stuff if they can. There is a culture being cultivated of people who rely on government assistance as a way of life. They know how to work the system because they learn from their parents. The population of this culture is growing because we are feeding it; it doesn't matter what race or color or religion those people are. Whats going to happen when those people out number the people who pay for them? It IS going to happen. Thats already the case without this affordable housing nonsense.

danigirl- I graduated college in 2004. That wasn't too long ago. I went to Community College then State University. I took out about 40k in student loans. I took 4 busses a day to go to school and worked a job while going to school. Guess what? Nobody gave me "affordable housing" or affordable gasoline or food or cloths when I got out. Thats because the world doesn't owe me anything. I hear where you are coming from. Times change, but not that much. Bread used to cost a nickel but still, nobody just gave out nickels. I do not see how any recent graduates' situations are so drastically different that they should be given "affordable housing". This is supposed to be the land of opportunity not hand outs. I've worked hard my whole life and I put my self through school and work hard so that I can afford to live where I want to live. Nobody handed anything to me. This isn't the land of "everybody gets to live in a nice place". Its supposed to be everyone has an opportunity to. My overall point here is that the world doesn't owe any of us anything. People graduate from college for example all the time. Are we supposed to provide them all affordable housing? You and I have taken this and made about college grads and really, thats a bit off subject. Affordable housing isn't targeting college grads. There is no good reason that we should go out of our way to transplant people into areas that they cannot by themselves afford. Just like theres no reason we should transplant middle class Americans into the upper stratosphere of rich neighborhoods. It simply is not how America is supposed to work.

Chris P so very well said and you speak for many of us who have done the same thing and feel the same way. Enough already.

Bob... But my town already has store clerks, EMTs, police, firefighters etc. It always has. So has your town. We even have people who work at the grocery store. I've got friends in all of the above categories. I've even been in some of those categories myself. Somehow its that way and always has been without people being given "affordable housing". I think it might be because some people are driven to get up every day and go to work.

...and when the store clerks, and service station attendants, and barbers, and even the police, fire and EMT workers can no longer afford to live within commuting distance to your community, and when everyone looks the same, acts the same, and IS the same...won't that just be great?! Good luck to you.

I wonder if Bob M votes for people like Andy Spano or Barack Obama? Hmmmm...
How do you think living in Westchester has gotten so expensive? What party raids the public treasury? Why are the 'blue' states the most expensive and fiscally (& morally) bankrupt? Any ideas, Bobby?
Yours is the shallow thinking of the liberal scourge. Congrats on joining in with the sheep.

Danigirl- Congrats on graduating from college and welcome to the real world. You make a good point about recent grads making only about $30,000. Its impossible to have your own place. Thats what I was paid when I was a recent grad. Do you know what I did? I lived with 2 roommates. We have all been in your position. Everyone starts off in the same place. People are forced to live with others or their parents until they can figure out by themselves or afford by themselves to live by themselves. Thats called life. Life isn't a college campus; you don't get assigned a dorm room. So why do you think that you or anyone else should be so special that now affordable housing should be provided to you? Westchester needs affordable housing? I didn't know Westchester "needed" anything. I thought it was fine. People who think they should get a free ticket to ride need affordable housing. Westchester "needs" less people like that.

Thank you Chris! But you may be a bit confused on where I am coming from. I am in no way looking for any sort of hand out. I intend to work to build and provide a better future for myself. I am not asking to live in a Penthouse suite or live in a glamorous manison free of charge.

I am not sure of the year or decade you may have graduated in but lets just assume it was the in the 80's or even the 90's when rent prices where not nearly what they are now. Also, everyone does not start off in the same place. Students graduating from college today versus 20-30 years ago are drastically different. Students were starting out their life with $15,000-40,000 of student debt and now those numbers are $80,000 and up. Loan rates are a lot higher than before. So no everyone does not start out the same. I think Westchester needs less people that do not see how much times have changed.

@ danagirl : FYI>

Dani but you miss the point ...back then as you call it I made 13K a year coming out of college so in todays dollars things were just as difficult for me as they are for college kids today. But as Chris said, we lived with roommates, n some cases total strangers or lived home. We didn't have cell phones and computers and had loans that when you made what we did are equivalent to what graduates are paying today. Yes you are right housing is more expensive but salaries are higher. And while I don't have an issue with affordable housing I do have an issue when the only ones who have the opportunity to rent or purchase them are minorities in OTHER communities instead of those who live in them now....oh wait a SMALL percentage are alloted to residents of the community in question. If we are going to build more affordable housing it can't be for only selected people and shouldn't be advertised only in communities with minorities. It should be open to one and all regardless of their race or where they live...but do I think we need 10,000 more units...sorry no I don't.

Congrats on joining the real world and graduating college, but you still have much to learn. Social welfare projects (like 'affordable' housing) and runaway pension deals are big reasons why places like Westchester are no longer appealing places to live. Setting you up in an affordable house will end up costing the rest of us. Can't do it. We shouldn't even have a county government. We don't need it. Fairfield County does just fine --and they have no county government. NY and CA are fiscal cesspools, driving residents young and old OUT b/c of dumb ideas like this. My advice: don't live in Westchester

How about 750 affordable Rolls Royces, I would like one. How about 750 affordable apartments on Fifth Avenue facing Central Park in NYC subsidized with Section 8 vouchers, I would like one. How about 750 affordable boob jobs, my girlfriend would like one. This affordable stuff sounds great, just love this cheap and free stuff, where do I sign up?

What makes some housing "affordable" and other housing not? The "affordable" housing is partially paid for by others. This tactic is being used by an imperial federal government to force presumably "racist" suburbs all around the country to admit more black residents and as another means of wealth transfer. What will be next? - affordable car prices? Affordable college tuition? Affordable grocery stores? - where there
will be a separate, lower level of prices based on race? By the way, what will happen if the contemplated affordable housing units turn out to be not black enough to satisfy the federal overlords? After all, they clearly aren't intended for whites. Will that result in another federal law suit accusing the county of not marketing the units to blacks aggressively enough? Will the government then dictate the exact racial makeup of all the tenants? I think that's just around the corner.

@ John J Bigelow, [ Affordable grocery stores? ] That is already here, FOOD STAMPS!!!

Portia Torte

10:32 am on Thursday, May 2, 2013

I attended this forum last night and one of the members of the developer for "affordable housing" stated that his son attended Bedford schools and came home on the first day of school (a decade ago) asking in words or substance where the black students were. To make this statement in claiming that there are no minorities in Bedford borders on defamation of the Town. According to widespread media accounts of the demographic makeup of for example, Fox Lane HS, minorities are 32% of the student population. Biology and school registration rules dictate that the parents residing in the district are also minorities. To portray Bedford as lily white and exclusive is more than unfair. Just take a drive around town and shop at the grocery and other stores. It is not the racial makeup as those who chimed in in unison claimed at the meeting.

I want to know why there should be a "quotas"? When will racial quotas be finished? Will they be with us forever? The question should be is reverse discrimination acceptable?

Andrea Kalusner certainly is "dissolving logic". If this isn't a black-white issue, as Andrea Kalusner says, then why are they identifying areas as "majority white". Why, if it isn't a black-white issue are they using race as an identifiable marker to decide where to build affordable housing? Hey I've got an idea. I can't believe I'm reading this. What if they identified areas as "majority black" and built housing for caucasians in those areas at less expensiive rents than the average in that area? That wouldn't go over too well would it? So why should it be ok that they are doing what they are doing?

I guess you missed the implied racism in the article that Westchester County was deemed "majority white", therefore, if you are a young white person, you need not apply. I doubt your college taught you about our founding, individual liberty, free markets, and the folly of social engineering. More likely you were taught by Marxists who are progressives hellbent on "fundamentally changing" America.

I most certainly found the slight racism in the article. I am not a young white person. I am a young black person and I attended a Historically Black college that did in fact teach about the founding of this country, free markets as well as Marxists theories and plently of other social issues and theories relevant in this country and the world. But I do not think that just because they're trying to build affordable housing "in majority white areas" that, that is any level of racism or a black-white issue. It is just the reality we live in. Like I said before I do not think it should just be targeted to minorities it should just be targeted for people who simply need affordable housing whether they are black, white, hispanic or asain. There just needs to be more affordable housing in Westchester period.

I am for the affordable housing. I am a recent college graduate who is just starting out the work force. I would like to live and work in the county that I grew up in. I am currently working in the county but finding housing that I can afford on my salary in this county has been impossible.I have though seen a great deal of affordable housing for senoir citizens which is great for them But not for the single person just starting out in life. Just like the majority of the recent graduates we are left with hefty student loan bills making it harder to move out of mom and dads.

So I say all that to say that it is not just about bringing people into the county who can't afford to live here or bringing black or hispanic families into areas of majority white families. And I don't like that it seems most of the affordable housing is targeted mostly to senior citizens. More affordable housing could be a way to help the young adults in the county to establish an affordable life of their own within the county.

Most recent grads do not start out making $50,000 a year or more its more like $30,000 a year or under. Making $30,000 a year would be about $1,800 a month. The average cost to rent an apartment in the county is about $1,200 add on some utility bills, student loans, car payments, gas, food, and the recent grad is left needing to ask mom and dad for some help.

@ danigirl:, I am willing to bet that you graduated with a BS in social studies, right? Maybe you should have thought about what profession you were going into. When I graduate will there be a job for me that will meet my financial expectations or will it be a "feel good' job"? Over the years I have seen our youth taking the easy way in college. No one wants to put in the effort anymore. What happened to those who took those hard subjects like engineering &medicine? Now it is advanced basket weaving. How many college students that into there 2nd or 3d year have NOT declared a major?
I like this one because I was in the business. My son/daughter has a "communications degree" can you get them a job where you work? With that degree there are plenty of intern jobs! You know what internes are paid , don't you?
Our colleges are turning out people who are not qualified to drive a fork lift. The very sad part about it is they are charging us top dollar for the privilege of going there. Colleges are over priced. When will people say enough is enough?

Live with your parents or another relative and save some money.
I did for 3 years after college.
That's all the affordable housing the rest of the county's residents should have to bear.

There are a ton of empty condo, coop , apts. in Yonkers, Mt. Vernon, Elmsford, Fleetwood which have been on the market long periods of time. We don't market our housing stock which is empty properly since our municipalities and Westchester Gov do a lousy job marketing our County's housing stock.

This is what happens when you elect leftist engineers who act under the guise of fairness, yet seek to destroy this nation and redistribute wealth. It is wholly anti-American, and a snapshot of what we are turning into: A Third World socialistic nation with no Constitution.

We must fight this or else we want suburbia to become just an extension of the big city.

Affordable housing is among the most inefficient and expensive of income transfer systems. The income test ignores wealth and means that well-off present residents have the opportunity to lower their housing costs at the expense of the taxpayer. There is clearly a need for income transfer in this county, but this is a misguided approach to it.