Late Arrival for “Cottage Landings,” Rye’s Newest Affordable Housing

It looked like everything was “good to go.” Back in January of this year, Westchester’s Housing Action Council (HAC) held an open house for the 15 homeowners who were scheduled to take possession of their affordable housing units “within weeks.”

A3 Housing 1
Published May 2, 2013 5:00 AM
3 min read

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A3 Housing 1It looked like everything was “good to go.” Back in January of this year, Westchester’s Housing Action Council (HAC) held an open house for the 15 homeowners who were scheduled to take possession of their affordable housing units “within weeks.”

 

By Bill Lawyer

 

A3 Housing 1It looked like everything was “good to go.” Back in January of this year, Westchester’s Housing Action Council (HAC) held an open house for the 15 homeowners who were scheduled to take possession of their affordable housing units “within weeks.” 

 

First proposed in 2009, the project construction began in August 2011. 

 

HAC staffer Rose Noonan said that the prospective residents were an excited and exuberant group, looking forward to moving in to the 0.9 acre, 22-unit apartment complex on Cottage Street, dubbed “Cottage Landings” by developer and builder Lou Larizza. The apartments back up onto I-287 where it converges with I-95. While technically in Rye, they are right on the border with Port Chester. In fact, they are just down the street from Port Chester’s Village Hall. 

 

Four of the units were to be offered at “market value,” which is about $100,000 more than the prices offered to qualified moderate-income residents. Those prices are $160,000 for a 750 square-foot, one-bedroom unit, and $170,000 for a 1,200 square-foot, one-bedroom and den unit. All include on-site parking. 

 

At the time of the open house, three of the one-bedroom affordable units were still available, due to that number of the selected applicants backing out of the purchase process for one reason or another. 

 

The certificates of occupancy had been issued, the mortgages had been approved, and all that remained was to have the bank closing details completed – with attorneys ready to go. 

 

And yet, February and March rolled around with no one in residence. Why the delay? According to Mr. Larizza, “It’s all because of the banks … things just moved very slowly.” Among the banks offering pre-approved mortgages were Capital One, Webster, and Community Mutual. 

 

Another reason for the delay was that some of the applicants who had been approved changed their minds, so that HAC had to recruit and screen additional applicants for eligibility. 

 

A3 Housing 2One applicant who benefitted from the delay was Sheron Wynter, a native of Jamaica who has lived in the United States since 1992, and works as a home health care worker. “I got a call from the HAC that there were units available, so I started the application process,” Ms. Winter explained. Her loan application took six months to be approved, and the mortgage was signed in late November.

 

As of late April, Larizza said twelve affordable units are now occupied, as are three of the full-price units. “Two more affordable units should be filled by the beginning of May,” Mr. Larizza added optimistically.

 

The 18 Cottage Landings affordable housing units are counted toward the federal government’s requirement that 750 units be built in Westchester communities for working families. At least 84 percent of units (630) must be in municipalities with an African-American population of less than 3 percent and a Latino population of less than 7 percent.

 

This was part of a settlement reached in 2009, otherwise the County would have been required to pay a $51.6 million fine for not complying with the terms of federal “block grants.” 

 

Westchester County adopted as policy the recognition that “the location of affordable housing is central to fulfilling the commitment to AFFH because it determines whether such housing will reduce or perpetuate residential segregation.”

 

Part of the closing deal is the stipulation that Mr. Larizza’s building management company will manage the property for the first year. “That way the unit owners will know whom to blame if something doesn’t work,” he said jokingly. 

 

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