WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Westchester County violated the terms of the Housing Settlement when County Executive Rob Astorino vetoed a bill banning discrimination against renters for using public assistance, such as Section 8 vouchers, to pay rent, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided Friday.
The decision upholds a judgment from the U.S. District Court.
Astorino vetoed a source-of-income bill passed by the County Board of Legislators in June 2010. A previous bill had been reintroduced from the 2009 legislative session. The 2010 bill removed court-ordered payments, inheritance, annuities, pensions and child and spousal support from the definition of income source. The bill also set a $50,000 penalty for discrimination and exempted co-op apartments and condominiums.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development contested that the county violated the terms of the settlement by not promoting the source-of-income legislation or including plans to overcome exclusionary zoning practices.
County officials had argued in court that the District Court had no jurisdiction to rule on the housing agreement and that an alternate reading of the settlement to promote would violate the Constitution.
“The county would have this court rely upon the legitimate concerns that motivate modification of long-standing consent decrees to allow the county to shirk its voluntarily agreed to obligations, made less than four years ago, with no showing that the objects of the consent degree have been obtained and strong evidence indicating that they have not been,” Circuit judges wrote in their decision. “This we will not do.”
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