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PRESS RELEASE: New Report Exposes Stark Racial Disparities in Westchester Housing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Juanita O. Lewis, juanita@cvhaction.org, 612-600-9639


NEW REPORT EXPOSES STARK RACIAL DISPARITIES IN WESTCHESTER HOUSING; OFFERS CONCRETE RECOMMENDATIONS


A new report from Community Voices Heard criticizes Westchester County for their lackluster affordable housing plans and outlines solutions.


March 6, 2023 (WESTCHESTER, NY) – Community Voices Heard released a new report today, Building Westchester’s Future: The Need for Affordable and Equitable Housing. The report outlines the scale of the housing crisis in Westchester, exposes the racial disparities stunting Westchester’s growth and prosperity, and offers recommendations to build Westchester’s future. “We're clear about the problem – now is the time to focus on the solutions,” said Executive Director Juanita O. Lewis. “Our report lays out clear recommendations for the Latimer Administration to focus on: fund, develop, and preserve deeply affordable housing. Westchester County must prioritize the development and preservation of housing in high rent burdened communities. We are ready to work with the Latimer Administration to implement the recommendations laid out in the report. Westchester County is in a housing crisis that has been building over time. It’s time that this administration play a leading role in addressing it.” “Our members are clear that the housing crisis is getting worse and that the County needs to act with more urgency to make sure Westchester residents at every level of income have a safe and affordable roof over their heads,” said CVH Board Member and Westchester resident Peter Bernstein. “What we see in this new report is consistent with what we’ve seen from the Westchester County Housing Needs Assessment and several other reports conducted in and around the county,” said Kisha Skipper, CVH Yonkers Member. “Now is the time for legislative action from our elected officials to ensure decent, quality and truly affordable housing opportunities for all county residents who are in need.” 51% of Westchester County households are rent-burdened (paying more than 30% of their wages toward rent), including 28.1% of households that are severely rent-burdened (paying more than 50%). In total, 82,451 Westchester households are facing homelessness, overcrowding, substandard living conditions, and severe cost burden. Westchester communities remain deeply segregated, the result of legal and social discrimination against people of color. Communities where Black and Latinx families live have lower quality education systems, inaccessible transit systems, environmental issues, greater health concerns, and unfair law enforcement. The municipalities in Westchester with the highest number of households who cannot afford their housing or are overcrowded are those with the most Black and brown, low-income residents. According to 2021 American Community Survey Data, 6.8% of white households in Westchester are living in poverty, compared to 18.2% of Black/African American households and 18.7% of Hispanic or Latino households. Westchester cannot continue to grow and prosper if housing opportunities continue to be unequal. Even though the need is clear, Westchester County has taken little action to address it. The report lays out four clear recommendations:

  1. Allocate $100 million of American Rescue Plan funding to subsidize the development of deeply affordable housing in municipalities with the highest rent burden and most diverse populations.

  2. Convert property owned by the county and municipalities into affordable housing and preserve existing, distressed housing.

  3. Support the creation of community-based redevelopment plans for quickly gentrifying cities.

  4. Create a housing inventory tracking system and support municipalities to opt into rent regulation.

Read the report here.

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Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led, multi-racial organization principally comprised of women of color and low-income families in New York State. CVH tackles tough issues and builds power to secure racial, social, and economic justice for all New Yorkers. Through grassroots organizing, leadership development, policy changes, and creating new models of direct democracy, CVH is creating a truly equitable New York State.

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