Early in March, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced he was running for governor. The Republican easily won his second term as executive by a wide margin in a heavily Democratic county, due in large part to voter outrage about the overreach of the federal government regarding the county’s 2009 affordable housing settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Westchester was singled out as a suburban community symptomatic of alleged racial abuses in housing and was sued by HUD for housing discrimination. The settlement required Westchester to build 750 affordable housing units in high-income, white neighborhoods and “market them aggressively” to minorities.
HUD and Westchester have been embroiled in the ongoing housing discrimination battle for years over the federal government’s efforts to dismantle local zoning and force the upscale suburban neighborhoods of Westchester to accept Section 8 and low-income housing.
Astorino warned, “The battle for zoning in Westchester County [will be] the battle everywhere. This is about changing every block, every neighborhood to the viewpoint of federal bureaucrats at HUD.”
Now HUD is pushing the county to build 10,000 more affordable housing units, claiming Westchester’s zoning laws are exclusionary and discriminatory. Astorino asserts, however, that there is no racial discrimination or exclusionary zoning in Westchester. Anyone from any minority group can live anywhere they want in the county, the only hurdle being economics.
People live where they want to live and where they can afford to live. A home is the cornerstone of the American Dream and people who work hard all their lives for their own property and put their life’s equity into their homes, should not have to experience their property values plummeting due to Section 8 rentals next door because of the decrees of some unelected bureaucrats.
In New York City, HUD does not have to bother with a lawsuit against the city because Mayor Bill de Blasio is already doing the work of the federal zealots at HUD in City Hall. The mayor unveiled his utopian dreams for the city when he recently vowed to create 200,000 affordable housing units within 10 years and has put together a sizeable team of affordable housing and welfare advocates who met behind closed doors to implement his plan.
De Blasio also announced a cash infusion of $52.5 million to the New York City Housing Authority as a major step toward his goal. Additionally, the Domino Sugar refinery redevelopment deal was a victorious affordable housing deal for the administration, since it increased to 30 percent the proportion of luxurious waterfront-view affordable housing units that a developer has to build, subsidized by taxpayers.
Since it is unfeasible to build 200,000 new units of housing, the city will be shuffling low-income, Section 8 renters into middle-class communities. They will be shuttled into existing homes and foreclosed properties in Bayside, Middle Village, Forest Hills, Bellerose, Floral Park and many other residential communities throughout the city.
Our communities will become underserved and overcrowded as our schools, hospitals, police, sanitation and fire services are taxed to the limit to serve the burgeoning, new socially engineered population in the outerborough neighborhoods. Congestion, crime, violence, drug use, neighborhood deterioration and plummeting property values will ensue as the characteristic, unintended consequences of government welfare programs gone off course.
This is the defining issue that will mobilize voters. The way to counteract this looming disaster is to build the Republican Party from the grassroots up and to win elections in order to stop the ultra-progressive agenda from destroying our city.
Queens Village Republican Club