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New York AG: Town agrees to end biased housing practices

The Detroit News

New York — New York Attorney General Letitia James said Friday she’s reached an agreement with a Hudson Valley town and county to end discriminatory housing practices she says were designed to keep Hasidic Jewish families from moving in.

James said the agreement require Orange County and the town of Chester to comply with the Fair Housing Act and to take preventative measures to ensure equitable housing practices moving forward.

In this Aug. 6, 2020, file photo, New York State Attorney General Letitia James adjusts her glasses as she announces that the state is suing the National Rifle Association during a press conference, in New York.

“The discriminatory and illegal actions perpetrated by Orange County and the Town of Chester are blatantly anti-Semitic, and go against the diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance that New York prides itself on,” James said in a statement.

But a representative for Orange County said the agreement cost the county “nothing.”

“We simply agreed to follow a law we were already following, agreed to do a training that had already been done, and agreed to fund a study that was already being done before her office was even engaged,” said county spokesperson Justin Rodriguez in an email.

The town of Chester said in a statement that the attorney general’s suit “ended with a whimper” after the developer complied with the law and the town gave out the building permits.

The agreement comes two years after James intervened in a developer’s lawsuit against the town and county governments over their handling of plans for a 431-home community in the town about 60 miles (96 kilometers) north of midtown Manhattan.

Government officials said they had legitimate concerns about the Greens at Chester project regarding infrastructure and building codes, but James said that was an excuse for “a concerted, systematic effort” to stop the project and keep Hasidic Jewish families out.