News Roundup

New York County Settles Housing Discrimination Suit

Westchester County settled a federal housing discrimination lawsuit earlier this week in which the county will pay $62.5 million. More than $50 million of the settlement is earmarked for the development of 750 affordable housing units.

Also included in the settlement is a requirement to build more than 630 units in areas of Westchester where the population is less than 3% African-American and less than 7% Latino.

The suit alleged that the county falsely claimed to have met fair housing standards set by the U.S government and as a result received more than $50 million in federal housing and community development funds from 2000 to 2006.

“Residential segregation underlies virtually every racial disparity in America– from education to jobs to the delivery of healthcare–but has been a problem that too many have ignored for too long,” said Craig Gurian, a civil rights attorney and executive director of the Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), a fair housing advocacy group in Metro New York. “This settlement means that Westchester can no longer hide from the ugly reality of continuing residential segregation.”

The ADC, which worked in conjunction with the federal government to prove Westchester’s wrongdoing, will receive $7.5 million as part of the settlement. The ADC brought the case under the False Claims Act and Housing and Community Development Act.

Westchester is also obligated to fund outreach efforts that promote fair and affordable housing and conduct an analysis of impediments to fair housing choice that examines barriers based on race or on municipal resistance. The county’s compliance with the agreement will be overseen by a court-appointed monitor.

–Marcia Wade Talbert