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Securing Historic Decision in Fair Housing Case

Pro Bono

Some communities have adopted discriminatory housing and exclusionary zoning practices to block affordable housing that would otherwise be occupied by minorities. 

In 2004, the Village of Garden City on Long Island considered a zoning proposal that would have made affordable housing possible on a county-owned site. In the face of public opposition, the Village rejected the proposal in favor of low-density high-cost single-family homes and townhouses. Together with lawyers from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, we represented the plaintiffs in this matter.

In a historic decision, Judge Arthur D. Spatt in the Eastern District of New York ruled that, by enacting this discriminatory zoning ordinance, Garden City violated the U.S. Constitution, the federal Fair Housing Act, and other civil rights statutes. The court found that "[t]he village's acts had both an adverse impact on minorities and tended to perpetuate segregation," which has allowed Garden City to remain a white enclave surrounded by predominantly minority neighboring towns. The court also found that "discrimination played a determinative role" in Garden City's decision to reject the originally proposed zoning, and that minorities in Nassau County "bore the brunt of the negative impacts" of that decision.

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