Incorporation will not subject Edgemont to any low-income housing requirement. No federal or state quotas exist dictating that municipalities must have certain minimum numbers of housing units for low-income residents. Under federal fair housing laws, it is illegal to prevent low-income housing from being constructed, which is why laws that prevent the construction of multifamily housing in communities where none exists are sometimes challenged as “exclusionary zoning.”
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) has a voucher program, known as “Section 8,” to provide rental assistance to low income residents. Section 8 program participants go into the public market to choose their own housing units, which may be single-family homes or apartments.
In Greenburgh, those seeking Section 8 housing apply through the Greenburgh Housing Authority, an independent agency that accepts HUD applications for such vouchers. Those vouchers may also be obtained through other HUD agencies, including the one in White Plains. Greenburgh also imposes a requirement that all new multifamily housing projects set aside 10% of their units as affordable. But the Town is not legally mandated to do so.
As a Village, Edgemont will also have the option of mandating affordable housing. As long as Edgemont’s existing housing stock (including its roughly 900 apartments, about one-third of the total housing in Edgemont) meets the minimum HUD requirements for safe and sanitary housing, Section 8 participants may use their vouchers in Edgemont, whether or not we incorporate.
What about the Westchester County Affordable HOusing Settlement?
Westchester County’s Housing Settlement with HUD requires the County to build 750 units of affordable housing in municipalities identified as having a population with inadequate racial diversity. Greenburgh was exempt from the settlement because its racial diversity was deemed adequate.
Could the settlement be amended to include Edgemont if we incorporate?
That scenario is unlikely: the agreement has never been amended since it was adopted seven years ago, in 2009. The settlement gave the County seven years, until December 31 of 2016, for the targeted municipalities to issue building permits for up to 750 units of affordable housing. Even if the settlement terms were somehow amended to include Edgemont as one of the targeted municipalities, the County will most likely by then have already met the target of 750 new units.