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Panel Discusses Affordable Housing in Hastings

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. – The Hastings community center hosted a discussion on affordable housing Wednesday night to discuss with residents the steps the village is taking to comply with the requirements of a lawsuit that Westchester County settled over the issue.

As per the settlement reached in 2009, Westchester County set aside $50,000,000 to construct a total of 750 affordable housing units in areas that fell below a certain level of racial diversity and Hastings was selected as one of those areas.

The forum featured members of the county’s housing action council, village’s affordable housing committee, planning and zoning and representatives from the Pace University School of Law.

Pace University did an analysis of zoning codes already set in place in Hastings and compared them with a set of model ordinances set by the county. As part of the affordable housing initiative, Hastings will be required to actively advertise housing to middle and low income families that qualify.

“The key is that there are no preferences,” said Rose Noonan of the housing action council.  “You’re reaching out to everyone.”

The members of the panel on hand discussed how the affordable housing could affect diversity in the community.

“It’s an effort to be sure barriers to people looking for affordable housing are removed,” said John Nolan, a representative from Pace University.

Some residents voiced concern with where the housing would go in the village and whether it would become too dense.

“It’s easier to add more development to a heavily developed area than it is to put more development in a sparsely developed area,” said Jim Metzger, a 12-year Hastings resident.

The idea of more affordable housing in the area is something that Metzger said people are not necessarily against, but that it needs to be presented in a better light.

“As soon as you bring up we’re building affordable housing, people immediately think we’re building a slum in the village,” he said. “People need to see there is a benefit to having diversity in this community.”

Susan Smith, chair of the affordable housing committee, said the committee is not looking to place all housing in one area. Instead, she said, its desire is to make it work in any way possible.

“Our goal has never been to put high density in single family areas,” she said.  “We try to fit in with the neighborhood.”

What are your thoughts on more affordable housing being constructed in Hastings?  Join the conversation and leave a comment below.  Remember to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter for more updates on your community.

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