photo courtesy of westchestergov.com
In the decade since Westchester County was sued by Manhattan nonprofit the Anti-Discrimination Center for housing discrimination, the issue of affordable housing has been a hot-button topic in the region — not to mention a factor that remains top of mind for residential housing developers seeking to integrate affordable housing units within their real estate projects in Westchester. Upon entering into an historic desegregation agreement with the US Justice Department and US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in 2009, the county agreed to construct 750 units of affordable units aimed at moderate-income people in overwhelmingly white communities.
Today, the county is working towards completing 850 units of affordable housing, with projects throughout Westchester. One of those is Armonk Commons — a townhouse development made up of 10 affordable units located on Old Route 22 in Armonk — which was feted last week at an opening ceremony. No signs of the contentious history surrounding the subject were on display at the event, attended by community leaders, housing advocates, and executives from Lazz Development, as well as County Executive Rob Astorino, who inherited the affordable housing settlement issue when he came into office.
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Lou Larizza, president of Lazz Development, a Port Chester-based affordable housing developer responsible for the Armonk Commons project, cited the hard work and efforts of all of the parties involved to make this development a reality. “For 25 years, we’ve been building affordable housing in Westchester County, and we’re pleased to be standing here today for this ribbon-cutting with the people who helped make it possible,” Larizza said. “It’s truly a team effort, and one we are proud to be a part of.”
Astorino, as well, belied no sour grapes, remarking that, “The county continues to work cooperatively with developers, local municipalities and New York State to ensure we are building affordable housing throughout Westchester. These units are the latest to be counted toward the agreement with federal government and show we are committed to delivering on this critical need.”
As part of the project, the county contributed $1.7 million through its affordable housing funds, which included $250,000 for the Town of North Castle to make infrastructure improvements and construct sidewalks connecting the homes to downtown Armonk.
To date, six homes in Armonk Commons have been sold and are occupied. According to Astorino’s office, final sales prices, after all subsidies, are between $208,000 and $218,000 and are affordable to families whose income is at 80 percent of the Westchester County Area Median Income, which for 2017 is $71,360 for a two-person household and $80,240 for a three-person household. (The homes will remain affordable for 50 years.)
By contrast, Houlihan Lawrence lists the August 2017 median sale price of a home in Armonk at $1,097,500, while Armonk’s median household income is estimated at $186,036, according to the US Census Bureau.