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  • Mamaroneck Observer

Affordable Housing 101

by Cindy Goldstein -


On the second night of the Affordable Housing community meetings held at the Emelin Theater on May 23, 2024 affordable housing professionals participated in a panel discussion about affordable housing issues in Westchester County. 


Tiffany Zezula, Deputy Director of the Land Use Law Center at Pace University, was the moderator and posed questions that had been previously submitted by Village of Mamaroneck residents.  She introduced the topic of affordable housing and the fact that many communities are grappling with the need to address the housing shortage in Westchester County and across New York State.  See Previous Article HERE


Terry Fleischman from the Westchester County Planning Department presented the facts and figures outlining housing trends over the past decades.  She said affordable housing issues impact both renters and homeowners.  More jobs have been added in the area but there isn’t nearly enough housing for them in Westchester.  She reported that increases in rent have far outpaced increases in wages.


Rosemarie Noonan, executive director of the Housing Action Council, answered the question of “what is affordable housing?” by saying that all housing is affordable for someone.  The question is who can afford it.  She described the housing spectrum and income restrictions that vary depending on the specific project.


Tim Foley, Chief Executive Officer of The Building Institute, pointed out that housing is affordable but for whom?  He described why affordable housing helps municipalities through economic benefits including increased sales tax and economic activity (e.g., shopping, dining, etc.).  He also referenced the fact that the federal government as well as New York State have unprecedented amounts of grant money available to encourage municipalities to build affordable housing.  There are also federal income tax credits available.  He warned this money may not be available in the future.


One theme of the evening was the flexibility in building affordable housing:  some units are built by municipalities and others by private developers (although there are fewer of these buildings).  Another model is a “public-private” partnership where a municipality partners with a developer who may be either a non-profit or for-profit enterprise.


Panelists also described the marketing, lottery and eligibility process for tenants and stressed that, based on the source of the funding, units could be marked as affordable for up to 99 years.  Foley stated the local land use board process which all projects must comply with would ensure some local control over traffic, infrastructure, green space, waste disposal, etc.


The panel presented valuable information about affordable housing – what it is and why we need it.  The session was videotaped by LMC Media and should be available for viewing on their website shortly.


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