Long Island, NY

Long Island owner agrees to housing bias settlement

January 11, 2016
A couple suing a Long Island property owner over discriminatory housing policies have reached a settlement requiring the owner to scrap a policy that gave preference to people with German backgrounds.
     After unsuccessfully trying to sell their Yaphank home for years, Philip Kneer and his wife, Patricia Flynn-Kneer, sued the German-American Settlement League, which owns the underlying land and rents lots to league members, who own their homes.
     The Kneers said the league's rules, such as making membership primarily open to people "of German extraction and of good character and reputation," breached laws such as the federal Fair Housing Act.
     The New York Times quoted the league president in October as saying that previous efforts to change the "antiquated" rules had been unsuccessful.
     

Court finds Garden Village's zoning plan discriminatory

March 26, 2014
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York has ruled that the Village of Garden City, on Long Island, and the village's board of trustees (the Garden City defendants) violated the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA),1 based on theories of disparate treatment and disparate impact, and also violated other federal civil rights laws and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when they eliminated "multi-family residential group" (R-M) zoning and endorsed "residential-townhouse" (R-T) zoning after they received public opposition to the prospect of affordable housing in the village.2
     After an 11-day bench trial in the case, Judge Arthur D. Spatt found that Garden City's zoning decision tended to perpetuate segregation in that community. The practical impact of the decision for Garden City, if any, remains to be seen and may not become evident for quite some time. The ruling, however, is quite notable for its conclusions of law on standing, mootness, and liability—which very well may lead to lawsuits against villages and towns across New York challenging municipal zoning decisions and land use regulations under federal anti-discrimination laws.
     

Despite opposition, developers bring affordable housing to Long Island

July 05, 2012
Just over 10 years ago, in January of 2002, Nassau County was short on the cash needed to maintain its various properties, from courthouses to administrative office. Then-County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi set out to consolidate the county’s holdings, devising a plan that included the sale of a 25-acre parcel in Garden City, a village of just over 21,000 residents in central Long Island. That decision set of a chain of events that is still playing out in court, where Garden City officials face allegations that racial discrimination caused them to disallow the development of multi-family rental buildings on the site. The case is expected to go to trial in district court this summer.
     The case highlights some of the challenge that have faced both developers who want to target young, elderly and blue-collar residents in suburban New York, and policymakers who seek to bring racial and economic diversity to some of the area’s whitest, most affluent communities.

Hofstra students fight housing discrimination

April 03, 2011
A group of Hofstra Law students in the school’s law reform advocacy clinic have struck a preliminary victory in a legal suit against the village of Farmingdale, claiming the village violated the Fair Housing Act.
     Since 2006, the advocacy clinic has represented nine Latino tenants who felt the village was violating the Fair Housing Act by implementing a redevelopment plan that targeted their 54-unit apartment complex, resulting in their displacement from the building. The apartment complex’s tenants are predominant Hispanic.
     On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Denis Hurley ruled the case would go to trial because the municipality could be held liable under the Fair Housing Act if its redevelopment plan is carried out by a private developer and that a direct link to racial undertones can be made.

HUD filing discrimination charges against a New York apartment complex

February 21, 2011
An apartment complex located in Oyster Bay on Long Island, New York and its management company will be the targets of charges filed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) alleging violations of the Fair Housing Act.
     Total Community Management Corporation and 4 Anchorage Lane Owners, Inc. are accused of denying accessible parking to an apartment resident with disabilities and refusing to modify the policy regarding parking in order to accommodate repeated requests made by the tenant.
     In a press release issued February 17, 2011, the Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for HUD states that the agency “will vigorously enforce the law” protecting disabled tenants’ rights.

Housing bias seen as persistent

March 20, 2009
In a new report seeking to measure housing discrimination on Long Island, an advocacy group that has been instrumental in easing the way for minorities to report instances of bias finds scant progress on the issue since its last in-depth look four years ago.
     Its dismal findings back then helped the Syosset-based group, Erase Racism, spur changes at the county level, so that by 2007 residents could take their bias complaints directly to the Nassau or Suffolk County Human Rights Commissions, rather than have to scale the state or federal bureaucracy.
     Two fair-housing laws that went into effect at the same time gave these human rights commissions powers of enforcement. For instance, in Nassau, the new laws impose fines of up to $50,000 on real estate agents, mortgage companies or management companies if the commission finds they have discriminated against prospective home buyers or renters on the basis of race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or disability.
     Yet Erase Racism’s “Racial Equity Report Card,” taking the temperature two years later, indicates that the new accessibility and prosecution powers of the rights panels have done little to change perceptions that Long Island deserves its census ranking as the third most racially segregated suburban region in the country. (The first two are the suburbs of Newark and Cleveland.)

Report: Housing discrimination on LI 'routine practice'

March 01, 2009
In 2004, Kirk and Orlandina Carter, a young African-American couple soon to marry, started to look for a house to buy in a "good neighborhood."
     "We probably had about three to five Realtors," said Orlandina Carter, 32. "They would always lead us to neighborhoods that were low-income, rundown."
     A new study suggests the Carters' experiences were not unusual.
     In "Racial Equity Report Card: Fair Housing on Long Island," the Syosset advocacy group Education Research Advocacy Support to Eliminate Racism criticizes real estate brokers and federal, state and local government agencies, which the group says do not act aggressively on discrimination complaints or enforce fair housing laws.

Proceeds from Hornsby piano to benefit NFHA

November 24, 2008
Steinway & Sons, widely recognized as manufacturer of the finest pianos in the world, announced today the introduction of its new Limited Edition Signature Series, featuring Steinway Artist and three-time Grammy winner Bruce Hornsby. Mr. Hornsby visited the renowned Steinway factory in Long Island City, NY on November 10 to select pianos to be offered as part of the first Celebrity Signature Series.
     "No two handmade Steinway pianos are the same -- each instrument has a slightly different feel, touch, sound and personality," said Todd Sanders, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Steinway & Sons.
     Each of the Steinway Model B grands selected based upon touch and tone by Mr. Hornsby, has been personalized with the artist's signature. Also included with each piano will be a Certificate of Authenticity, an autographed photo, and a signed deluxe boxed set of CDs and a DVD. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each piano in this limited series will be donated to the National Fair Housing Alliance, one of Mr. Hornsby's favorite charities. The N.F.H.A. works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people.

Long Island is too fragmented and segregated

September 09, 2007
Whether by accident or design, Long Island has evolved as a region of tiny enclaves, separated into little boxes by 1,000 different governmental authorities, 127 school districts and a steadfast investment in the status quo. Keeping people separated was the core value that seeded Nassau County's post-World War II growth. Housing developments were segregated by race, ethnicity and income. Individual school districts were carved out to mirror the communities they served. Not surprisingly, Long Island is today one of the most segregated suburban areas in the nation.

Housing's dirty little secret

September 01, 2006
Long Islanders know how hard it is to be able to afford a home. But for many residents, their housing problems go beyond price. They may be unable to find housing because of the color of their skin.
     Now, seeking to add muscle to 1968's federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits racial bias or other discrimination by landlords or sellers, the Nassau Legislature and Suffolk Legislature are both challenging what Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy calls Long Island's "dirty little secret."

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