Rev. Al Sharpton weighs in on affordable housing

WHITE PLAINS - The Rev. Al Sharpton was in White Plains this afternoon to weigh in on the affordable housing battle between Westchester and the government.

Sharpton is taking Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino to task for not complying with a federal affordable housing settlement. Sharpton was joined by several Democratic politicians as he accused Astorino of violating federal law.

The appearance comes one day after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said it would not allocate $5.2 million in funds unless the county meets a May 9 deadline to comply with all zoning rules imposed in a 2009 settlement. HUD gave the county two weeks to sign a statement, acknowledging zoning codes may be creating obstacles for minorities.

Astorino says he would rather forfeit millions more in grant money than give in to the new demands. The county maintains there is no exclusionary zoning in Westchester and says it is building all the affordable housing agreed to in the settlement.

Sharpton warns that civil rights groups will send what he called "asteroids" around the state to dog Astorino as he campaigns for governor. He says they will remind the county executive of his responsibilities under the settlement.

Astorino says if there was opposition to affordable housing like HUD claims, the county would not be ahead of schedule in building the housing and without resistance from the local communities.

County Board Chair Michael Kaplowitz says he wants the board to take a greater role in bringing both sides together. Kaplowitz says two weeks is not enough time for the county board to come up with a definitive plan to meet HUD's demands, and is asking for more time.

There's no word on whether HUD will agree to the delay or if it will accept Kaplowitz's offer.

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