James Johnson, the federal monitor in the affordable housing settlement case with Westchester County, announced Monday that he will be resigning from his position no later than Aug. 10.
In a letter addressed to U.S. Federal District Court Judge Denise Cote, Johnson stated that he had already retired from his partnership at the Manhattan law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in March, and Aug. 10 would mark the seventh anniversary since he was appointed.
“Between now and August 10, I will work diligently to complete the tasks identified in the hearing of July 8,” Johnson wrote in his letter to Cote. “I am committed to coordinating with the new Monitor so that the transition is as seamless as possible.”
Under paragraphs 9 and 11 in the consent decree, the federal government has been interviewing candidates to fill the pending vacancy, Johnson’s letter mentioned. He encouraged the new monitor to meet with various stakeholders across the county to be in a better position to evaluate compliance and whether good faith efforts are being taken.
Johnson suggested his successor charge commercial legal rates rather than have their fee capped at $175,000 year, which has given the county the incentive to legally challenge the settlement. In his letter, he estimated that the cost of unreimbursed legal fees to Debevoise & Plimpton to be more than $11 million.
In order to comply with the settlement, the county needs to have funding and building permits or certificates of occupancy for 750 new affordable units by Dec. 31. As the end of 2015, the county had financing in place for 649 and permits or certificates of occupancy for 588 units.