Last week brought milestones in three housing discrimination cases on Long Island.
Island Park finally agreed to settle a thirty year old racial discrimination dispute over misusing federal funds to subsidize affordable housing. The village rigged the system so that politically connected individuals could buy the homes.
Remarkably, the village now admits it has discriminated against African Americans, and has agreed to contract with an administrator to market 17 homes to blacks. Federal prosecutors also agreed to reduce a $5 million fine against the village, because Island Park is still struggling with the devastation of Superstorm Sandy.
In another major housing case, a federal judge has ruled that Garden City had intentionally discriminated against minorities by changing zoning so multifamily housing could not be built on land Nassau County wanted to redevelop. Garden City plans to appeal.
Another milestone should be reached in Huntington today, when the town board is expected to vote on settling a federal court case in which discrimination against families and minorities has been alleged.
This settlement involves the development of 117 units of multifamily rental housing on Ruland Road in Melville. The Huntington NAACP and others argued that the town discriminated against families when it limited the units to just one bedroom. The pending federal court settlement now provides for several two- and three-bedroom units.
If there is a lesson Huntington and Garden City can take from Island Park’s experience it is this:
Make history by building affordable housing accessible to many instead of constructing piles of losing legal arguments.
Build with bricks, not briefs.