New York AG Fighting Housing Discrimination Against Jewish Community

By reporter

New York Attorney General Letitia James took action today, to fight discriminatory housing practices that the Town of Chester and Orange County have exploited to prevent members of the Jewish community from moving into those communities.

The AG filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against the Town of Chester and Orange County alleging that they have engaged in a concerted and systematic effort to prevent Orthodox Jewish families from moving to Chester by blocking the construction of a housing development.

In October 2017, The Greens purchased a 117-acre property in the Town of Chester in Orange County, New York, which had been fully approved for residential development under the ownership of the previous developer. Since The Greens’ purchase in 2017, officials from both the County and the Town have repeatedly sought to block development of the site and have openly expressed discriminatory intent to block the development at public town meetings, explicitly referencing their desire to keep Jewish families out of their community.

The original lawsuit, filed in July 2019 by the developers of the “The Greens at Chester,” outlined countless discriminatory and unnecessary actions that Chester and Orange County have taken to stop the homes from being built in order to prevent Jewish families from purchasing and occupying them, gross violations of the Fair Housing Act.

This lawsuit outlines the Town and County’s anti-Semitic campaign to specifically target and prevent Jewish developers from operating in the Town and Jewish families from residing in the Town.

Additionally, the Town and County placed multiple obstacles in the way of the developers in an attempt to thwart construction, all in violation of a settlement agreement reached in 2010 regarding the zoning and construction of the land. They passed a law to restrict the size of the houses that could be built in an attempt to make them uninhabitable for families.

The Town and County also advanced proposals to levy extra taxes on the development; to limit the hours that construction could occur on the site; and to require the developer to provide the personal information of its managing partners to local officials.

In a statement Agudath Israel of America applauded New York State Attorney General Letitia James for filing a motion to intervene saying “Agudath Israel has a long and proud history of fighting zoning and religious discrimination, something that is at the highest level of the organization’s priorities. It has had several conversations on the issue with the Attorney General, beginning even before she assumed her current position.”

Earlier in her career, Attorney General Letitia James had represented Crown Heights in the City Council.

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