NY AG lawsuit ends housing discrimination against Jews in Orange County town

NY town and county had prevented Jews from moving into a new development through land use regulations and denying permits to the developer.

Dan Verbin, Canada ,

New York State
New York State

New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced on Friday that her office has reached deals with Orange County and Chester, New York to prevent the use of discriminatory housing practices designed to keep Jewish families from moving to Chester.

The deal stipulates that Orange County and Chester must abide by the Fair Housing Act while also taking preventative measures to make certain that regulations are followed when it comes to housing practices. They must also appoint a fair housing compliance officer.

“For years, the town of Chester and Orange County engaged in an effort to stop Jewish families from moving to Chester,” James said in a Twitter statement. “My office filed a lawsuit to stop this harmful conduct, and today, these discriminatory housing practices come to an end.”

She added that the previous housing practices by the county and the town were illegal and “blatantly anti-Semitic” and went “against the diversity and inclusivity that New York prides itself on.”

“Hate and discrimination against any group will not be tolerated in New York,” she wrote.

In May 2020, a judge ruled that the Attorney General’s office could intervene in a lawsuit against the town and county for discriminatory housing practices targeting Jews.

“This is a win in our fight to end housing discrimination and ensure all our communities are treated fairly,” James wrote at the time.

The 2019 lawsuit had been filed by real estate developer The Greens at Chester. The firm alleged that the town and county denied permits and created other obstacles to block their fully approved 431-home development plan believing it would lead to a large number of Hasidic families moving into the area, reported recordonline.com.

Their complaint was over 100 pages long and included quotes from residents and officials taken from public meetings in support of their claim of bigotry, including local residents and staff openly stating their intent to block the development in order to keep Hasidic families from moving to the town.

Their case hinged on the town and county violating the Fair Housing Act that mandates it is unlawful for anyone to refuse to sell or rent a home to a person based on their religion, race, sex, national origin, or familial status.

“We welcome the attorney general’s settlement in this case, which we hope will finally put an end to the longstanding, anti-Semitic discrimination on full display in Orange County and in the Town of Chester,” said Scott Richman, regional director for New York and New Jersey, Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “The conduct at issue in this case — intentionally and systematically blocking the construction of a housing development in order to keep Hasidic families out of the community — is not only unlawful, but it is deeply hateful, and has caused significant pain for Jewish communities across the state.”

David Harris, CEO of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), thanked James for her work on the case, lauding her commitment to fighting discrimination against the Jewish community.

“We have said repeatedly that Jews should not bear the burden of combating anti-Semitism in all its many forms, including those masquerading as land use regulation. The successful conclusion of this lawsuit, brought by Attorney General James, is a laudable example of what should be the norm for public officials everywhere,” he said.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)