Committee Meeting
4/16/2012 1:30 PM
Committee Room
148 Martine Avenue, 8th Floor   White Plains, NY 10601

With a quorum present, {MinutesOpenedBy} called the meeting to order at {MinutesOpened:h:mm tt}.

Roll Call

Others In Attendance: CEO: L. Jackson HRC: J. duckette-Epps LAW: J. Castro-Blanco, J. Adin, E. Cipollo BOL: C. Crane, M. Gallagher, L. Goldstein, D. Tubiolo, D. Messy, T. Staudter, M. Montalto


1. Minutes of Mar 19, 2012 1:30 PM

With a motion by Legislator Kaplowitz and seconded by Legislator Harckham the item bwas approved with a vote of 6-0.

2. Minutes of Mar 26, 2012 1:00 PM

With a motion by Legislator Kaplowitz and seconded by Legislator Harckham the item bwas approved with a vote of 6-0.

1. LL-2012-9 : Amendment to the Fair Housing Law

An amendment to the Fair Housing Law of the Westchester County Human Rights Law in order to obtain full certification as substantially equivalent to the federal Fair Housing Act by the  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Committee discussed this item with the County Attorney and the Human Rights Commission.


Jim Castro-Blanco of the County Attorney's office explained, as stated in the County Attorney's opinion that there are some issues concerning the new requirement for certification for FHAP funding, including using the County Attorney's Office to represent respondents because it is public tax dollars being used. Committee counsel shared these concerns as well.  A discuss ensued regarding these issues.  The Committee agreed that there are some problems and discussed how to resolve them as these changes are required to be made in order to be certified and equivalent with the Federal Fair Housing Act.  


Chairman Ryan asked what the financial impact would be to the County if we made these changes, how many cases would we have to pay for attorneys for, and what would the impact be if we lost the FHAP funding. The County Attorney's Office explained that on average 1 to 4 respondents choose to go to court rather than settle their issue in mediation and currently they pay for their own counsel. If these changes are made the county would have to pay for these fees it is hard to know how much it would cost annually because it depends on how many cases choose to go to court.


Legislator Harckham asked if we only provided legal counsel to those who are indigent if that would be sufficient for HUD and our certification.  He asked the County Attorney's office to find out.


Legislator Marcotte asked if other counties are being asked to make the same changes and if so how are they handling it? Jerrice Duckette-Epps, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission stated that Rockland County as well as Suffolk and Nassau counties provide legal counsel for these cases. Further discussion ensued.


Mr. Castro-Blanco stated that  under the Removal Section A. 2. binds future Legislatures to file a civil action within 30 days.


Legislator Harckham asked for clarification as to if Nassau and Suffolk counties use county attorneys or human rights commission attorneys to provide these services and why would our county attorney provide these services instead of our human rights commission attorneys?  Mr. Castro-blanco stated that our county attorney is the sole attorney for all boards and commissions and agencies to the county, and the way it stands the county attorney is saying we cannot do this. Legislator Harckham asked why Nassau and Suffolk are able to do it.  Ms. Duccette-Epps stated that they have different charters.  Legislator Harckham asked for further details and clarification on this.


The Committee agreed to gather more information and continue the discussions at a later date.



a. LOCAL LAW-Amending Section 700 28 of the Fair Housing Law-DRAFT
b. LOCAL LAW- Amending Section 700 28 of the County Fair Housing Law DRAFT #2
c. LOCAL LAW- Amending Section 700 28 of the County Fair Housing Law 03-23-12-DRAFT #3
d. LL- Amending Section 700 28 of the County Fair Housing Law-DRAFT #4

Moved by Legislator Shimsky seconded by Legislator Perez  the Committee on Legislation adjourned at {MinutesClosed:h:mm tt} with a vote of 6-0.


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