US Court of Appeals for the Second CircuitLast week, the Department of Housing & Urban Development advised Westchester County that $7.4 million in community development block grants were at risk of being permanently lost because of the Astorino Administration’s failure to honor the terms of a federal housing settlement.

Just hours ago, the news for Westchester got even worse. In a strongly worded judgment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dismissed Astorino’s legal argument on “source of income” legislation.

You can read the full decision here.

Reasonable people can disagree on housing policy, but all of us have an obligation to uphold the law. Unfortunately, since assuming office, Rob Astorino has pursued a course that blends defiance with wishful thinking. The consequences of this flawed and politically-motivated strategy are now painfully clear:

  • federal grants that are vital to sustaining community services, investments and not-for-profits are now being lost, with millions more at risk;
  • untold dollars have been racked up in wasteful legal expenses to advance a weak theory that has now been soundly rejected by the Court;
  • the dispute over compliance with federal housing obligations, now dragging into a fourth year, remains an unresolved source of division and distraction.

Responsible leadership would have put this issue behind us long ago, and a change in direction is urgently needed before even more harm is done to the civic, social, and financial health of our county.