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Astorino Holds Q&A, Says Housing Benchmark Met

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino took questions from residents during a forum Wednesday in White Plains and announced that the county has surpassed another benchmark in the affordable housing settlement.

As of Wednesday, the county had secured building permits for 130 of the 750 units of affordable housing required under the 2009 settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Astorino said. The county was required to have 125 building permits by the end of 2012. Additionally, 207 units have financing, ahead of schedule on the 200 required by the end of the year, he said.

Astorino added that 75 percent of the 750 units are in the development pipeline .

A 2009 agreement between HUD, the U.S. Department of Justice and Westchester requires the county to spend $51.6 million building 750 units of affordable housing in 31 predominately white communities by the summer of 2016.

After giving an overview of the county’s economic situation to an audience spilling into the hallway outside the White Plains Common Council chambers at City Hall, Astorino opened the forum, titled “Ask Astorino,” to the public.

Carolyn Liptrot said she wants Westchester County to look at extending service for Bee-Line bus route 5, which she uses regularly. The 50-year White Plains resident said the area around Lake Street that the route serves has developed substantially in the time she has lived there and the service no longer satisfies the need.

The county executive told Liptrot he would look into it, and referenced his decision to cancel route 76 and add some of its stops to route 13 as an example of county government's not only finding efficiencies to save money, but preserving essential services.

Arnida Carter of Mount Vernon asked Astorino to address the most recent layoffs at Westchester Medical Center , which left her without a job for the first time in about 30 years. She wanted to know why administrators continue to receive raises while she and hundreds of other aides and registered nurses lost their jobs. Astorino said he couldn't answer her questions because the county hasn't run the hospital since 1998.

Evelyne Aronin of White Plains offered what she called a money-making idea, which Astorino welcomed. She suggested the county open the Saxon Woods Pool parking lot to outdoor markets, which the county executive said he would take under consideration.

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