Weschester County finance officials have delayed their planned issuance of tax-exempt bonds to fund a landmark affordable housing program because most localities have yet to approve the home-ownership plan, county officials said Thursday.
The bonding program, announced in March after County Executive Andrew P. O'Rourke detailed a plan to construct 5,000 units of affordable housing throughout Westchester County over the next five years, was scheduled to begin this summer, county officials said.
County finance officials said they had planned to issue $50 million of tax-exempt bonds to pay for the affordable-housing units. Families with yearly incomes between $28,000 and $64,000 would qualify to purchase the homes, priced at an average cost of $100,000.
However, only four of the 16 municipalities Mr. O'Rourke has designated to receive the units have committed to projects, said P. Lynn Oliva, the county's planning commissioner. They are the towns of Bedford, Harrison, and Yorktown, and the city of Rye.
Many more communities have expressed interest in the proposal but have not provided the county with the necessary approval to begin construction, the officials added.
Officials also said that several towns are refusing to cooperate with the county's housing efforts because of community opposition to the plan.
"Without specific project proposals, the county would not proceed with bonding," said Stephen V. Reitano, the county's commissioner of finance. "I'm not saying we're not going to do the bonding. But we need the project approval before we go to market."
Although the county expects to break ground on some housing sites in the beginning of 1993, the bonding plan has been delayed until more concrete plans are available, one official said. County officials said, however, they could pay for the plan's initial phase through a small increase in Westchester's regular general obligation bond issues, completed in the fall and spring of each year. The county may also qualify for additional state aid to help pay for the housing construction.
In March, Mr. O'Rourke said the county had the power to overrule communities that opposed the housing proposal. However, county officials say they are now taking a less confrontational approach, and have chosen to work with the targeted communities rather than force them to accept the housing units.
In addition, officials say they are likely to scale back the size of the proposed bond issue. Mr. Reitano said the county is examining loan programs through the State of New York Mortgage Agency as well as other state financing arrangements, which earmark housing money for not-for-profit corporations.