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In Westchester County, Plan for Luxury Units Draws Ire

In Westchester County, Plan for Luxury Units Draws Ire
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MTA land sale in Harrison rubs housing advocates the wrong way.

Housing advocates spoke out at Grand Central Terminal Monday afternoon in response to plans to use land in the Westchester County town of Harrison to build luxury housing units. 

This action followed an announcement that the MTA is selling land near Harrison's train station, and the area is already slated to be used for expensive apartments, a parking garage, and shops. Those in opposition to the plan largely believe the land should instead be used to create affordable housing for the town's lower-income residents. They charged the town of Harrison, as well as the MTA, with this misstep.

According to federal housing monitor James Johnson, Harrison is one of six municipalities with the worst affordable-housing record. Residents of the town, like Habitat for Humanity of Westchester's Jim Killoran, said this has contributed to an obvious wealth gap.

"There are acres upon acres [where] the biggest accolade is that someone put a golf course in their backyard, while other people are being stuffed into buildings," he said.

White Plains and Greenburgh NAACP chapter president, Lena Anderson, agreed with Killoran.

"We are sending a message to our lower income citizens in Harrison," she said. "That [you] can come in and work in the big houses, [you] can be nannies, [you] can be servants, but you have got to leave here when the time comes to go home." She continued, "That is not America."

MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said his agency hopes to use the land sale to generate revenue to keep fares low. He added that the MTA has no say in what is built on the land.

"Affordability requirements for the housing component of the development is a question that belongs to the town and village of Harrison," he said.

Harrison's mayor did not return a call to comment.

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