NEWS RELEASE

Ned McCormack, Communications Director (914) 995-2932 Contact: Donna Greene (914) 995-2935

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Oct. 28, 2010

COUNTY TO END CONTRACT WITH THE STATE TO MANAGE SECTION 8 HOUSING CHOICE VOUCHER PROGRAM In an effort to streamline government and relieve county taxpayers of an unnecessary expense, Westchester County is ending its contract with New York State to manage a Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program as of Dec. 31. Westchester is currently one of only four counties that have contracts with New York State to administer Section 8 housing vouchers for low-income individuals and families. In 2011, the county expects that its expenses to run the program will exceed the money it receives from the state by more than $500,000. In addition, the county is also on the hook for the non-reimbursable retirement benefits, such as health care, for the county workers assigned to the program. This could amount to an additional $700,000 a year in the future. “The county’s contract with the state is just not economically viable,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “Savings from not renewing the contract will be applied to addressing the county’s projected $166 million deficit for 2011. In many other counties, Section 8 programs are managed by non-profit groups, which can provide the services more cost effectively than government. This is the model that should be used in Westchester.” Westchester County notified the state today that it would end the contract at the end of the year. Under the agreement, a 60-day notice is required. Cancellation of the contract will result in the layoff of 40 county workers on Dec. 31. However, because of Civil Service rules regarding seniority and other factors, some of the employees directly impacted by the contract cancellation may be eligible for a different county job and push the layoff to others. “This is no reflection on the Section 8 program and the employees who provide the services,” said Astorino. “I want to thank all of the employees for their hard work and dedication over the years. Sadly, this is just a tough decision that has to be made to bring down costs to affordable levels.” -- more --

Section 8 P.2

In addition to the Section 8 program run by the county, 13 local municipalities and public housing authorities across Westchester run their own Section 8 programs. The county’s Section 8 program has been run by the Planning Department since 1975. The 13 programs not run by the county are not affected by the county’s decision to terminate its contract with the state. Those agencies contract directly with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Edward Buroughs, the acting commissioner of Planning, said the county would work closely with the state during the transition, especially with an eye toward exploring whether opportunities for some of the affected employees might exist with the new contractor the state selects to run the program. “Employees will remain on the payroll through the end of the year and we will do our best to help them and keep the program running smoothly,” he said. There are approximately 11,000 Section 8 vouchers in use in Westchester County through all of the programs. Some of the local programs are very small, with most assisting fewer than 500 families each. The county administers about 4,400 vouchers. Running the Section 8 program cost the county $4.5 million a year, of which just $4 million was reimbursed by the state, leaving the county with a $500,000 loss. In addition, the county is responsible for retirement costs. Assuming each of the 40 employees had stayed with the county until their retirement and kept their current health plans, the county could have been liable for an additional $700,000 in health care costs annually. “The immediate loss is $500,000 a year, but it grows each year as the cost of county salaries, benefits and pensions increases,” said Lawrence Soule, the county’s budget director. “The retirement costs are then added on top of that.” --30 --

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