Sharpton May Protest Astorino Over Housing Dispute

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) -

Al Sharpton may soon be dogging Republican candidate Rob Astorino’s campaign for governor with protests about the Westchester county executive’s housing desegregation dispute with the federal government.

“We will accompany him all over the state … to remind him that his commitment is to live up to what the agreement is,” Sharpton said Thursday at a news conference on a sidewalk outside Astorino’s office, one day after the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced plans to withhold an additional $5.2million from the county. It has already reallocated $7.4 million that would have gone to various projects in the county.

HUD and the Department of Justice say Westchester has not complied with the terms of a 2009 agreement to come up with an acceptable analysis of whether any local zoning laws inhibit fair housing. The county has provided several analyses, always concluding there are no discriminatory zoning laws, a contention HUD has rejected.

HUD gave the county until May 7 to comply. Sharpton, a controversial civil rights activist, said mobilizations would begin then if Astorino did not meet HUD’s demand.

“We know how to get here,” he said, addressing Astorino. “We will follow you everywhere until the money flows for Westchester.”

Astorino said Thursday that Westchester was in full compliance with the settlement. He said the government was “trying to force us to do away with local zoning so federal bureaucrats can dictate housing in Westchester.”

“It’s not worth $5 million in grants, it’s not worth a billion dollars in grants,” Astorino said.

He also accused his opponent, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of “sending his political people to make these outrageous statements.” Sharpton said he has not spoken with Cuomo about the Westchester housing issue and has not endorsed him. He said he was campaigning for affordable housing, not against Astorino.

In a case involving another New York suburb, a federal judge ordered the affluent village of Garden City, on Long Island, to train elected officials and housing employees on fair housing issues and to work to enforce equal housing. The judge had previously ruled that Garden City discriminated against minorities in some of its zoning decisions.