Letter to the Editor: ‘Latimer Has Been More Rhetoric Than Results on Housing’

George Latimer recently released his first campaign ad in his primary campaign against incumbent Congressman Jamaal Bowman. In the ad, Latimer claimed he was the candidate of “results, not rhetoric.” However, on the most significant issue facing Westchester, a housing crisis that has priced out many working families and forced so many of our children to move away in search of more affordable rents, Latimer has been all rhetoric with little results to show.

Latimer boasts of building a substantial number of new affordable housing units, but the number of new units built is a pittance compared to what is needed to adequately address this crisis.  In fact, the rents and purchase prices of many of these new units are much higher than most of our neighbors can afford.  For example, an “affordable” apartment listed in New Rochelle right now has a rent of $30,000 a year for a two bedroom apartment. A full time minimum wage worker in 2024 will make less than $35,000 a year.

The Rutgers University Center for Urban Policy Research determined that by 2015, the County would need at least 10,768 additional units, a conservative estimate that did not take into account the more than 72,000 households determined to be cost burdened. By 2019, an Affordable Housing Needs Assessment undertaken by the Latimer administration itself after pressure from residents acknowledged that “Collectively…the need for affordable housing in Westchester County totals 82,451 units” and while much of this need might be met through other programs, “The total number of new affordable housing units needed is 11,703.”  That same needs assessment laid out twelve recommendations for the County to take to address the affordable housing shortage. To this date, little or no action has been taken.

Affordable housing is not only a matter of numbers; it is also a matter of place. In 2009, Westchester County was party to a court order of the US District Court of the Southern District  for its failure to build sufficient affordable housing to meet the needs of its citizens and for its continuing pattern of segregation in housing. Many local governments in Westchester have historically employed exclusionary zoning to prevent affordable homes that could help desegregate their communities. The Court ordered that “In the event that a municipality does not take actions needed to promote the objectives (of the settlement) or undertakes actions that hinder the objectives…the County shall use all available means as appropriate to address such action or inaction, including but not limited to, pursuing legal action…”  Where people live impacts their lives across a broad range of issues from the education of their children to health care, jobs and access to transportation, but Latimer has consistently avoided taking action to force local governments to comply with the Court requirements.

In addressing this crisis, we must answer what kind of community we want to be here in Westchester? Do we want to be a community where only the wealthiest among us can afford to live and raise their children? A place where the price of housing creates de facto segregation that relegates many of our Black, brown, and working class neighbors to living in communities that lack the same opportunities to good schools that wealthy residents have?

It has been a tremendous privilege for us to be able to raise our families here in Westchester. But for our children’s and grandchildren’s generation, raising their own families here feels further and further out of reach. Combined with the soaring costs of healthcare and college tuition, the idea of being able to afford living here is more fantasy than reality for all but the highest of earners.

As a County document said years ago, “The hardest part about building affordable housing is not finding the funding or the land.  It is finding the political and moral will.” Unfortunately, during his tenure as County Executive, George Latimer has lacked the political and moral will to actually address this crisis. Instead, he has relied on lofty rhetoric and misleading statistics to attempt to paint himself as a leader on the housing crisis we face, while in reality he has been anything but.

Jennifer Cabrera
Vice Chair, Westchester-Putnam Working Families Party
David Schwartz
Former Vice Chair, Westchester-Putnam Working Families Party
State Committee Member, New York Working Families Party


  1. Both authors for the “letter to the editor” work for the Working Families Party – A political action group that is openly supporting Bowman. This is not a letter to the editor but free advertising from the River Journal….

    1. Hi Jon. Thanks for your comment. Are you aware that the purpose of “Letters to the Editor” and Op-eds are for people to express their own opinions? Especially in a medium like River Journal where as a policy we don’t endorse candidates. I’m sorry you have a problem seeing an opinion that may differ from yours, but if you would like to submit a LTTE, we are happy to review it and run it. As always, letter writers must provide their full names and, if applicable, their affiliation (like you see with the letter you are referring to) because we don’t give anyone the opportunity to hide behind anonymity if they want to share an opinion on our site. River Journal

      1. I am aware, and I didn’t mean to offend you so much. I just find this “letter” to be disingenuous. The authors are financially and politically motivated. I object to those motivations as working families party spends money on behalf of candidates. To me, that makes this free advertising rather than a constituent voicing an opinion.

  2. The letter from the Working Families Party is correct. Latimer has for too long blocked the construction of affordable housing. Westchester County is infamous nationally among advocates of fair and inclusive housing. The county’s leaders have for years wrong-headedly opposed progressive housing policy. The choice between Latimer and Bowman is a choice between those who will protect privilege and those who will fight for reform.
    William Goldsmith — Prof Emeritus, City and Regional Planning, Cornell University. Author: Saving Our Cities: A Progressive Plan to Transform Urban America

  3. 2,500 units occupied
    4,000 units in the pipeline

    If you think that’s a pittance, it’s much more than any other suburban county. Tell the people safe and properly housed by these units. Much more than the prior County administration.

    This is simply the political effort to re-elect the incumbent Congressman, backed by the WFP, by casting shade on our legitimate accomplishments.

    Happy to provide a list of the units and the locations of the units. Can I get a list of the units the Congressman has achieved?

  4. It’s really a shame that George Latimer is accusing his opponent of rhetoric over results and trying to pretend he delivered the results he promised while holding different elected offices. His actual results are minuscule in comparison to his rhetoric. Westchester deserves better! Plus why is he using right wing money to primary the current representative who has been delivering results. It feels shameful.

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