The Town of Oyster Bay’s affordable housing programs for young families and seniors discriminated against minorities when it awarded units to only white residents, the U.S. Department of Justice alleged in a lawsuit.
The town’s two housing programs allegedly violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against African-Americans by giving preference to residents of the town, which is predominantly white, at two developments: The Seasons at Plainview and The Seasons at Massapequa, according to the lawsuit.
“The Fair Housing Act protects the right of all individuals, regardless of their race, to choose where to live and to have equal access to affordable housing,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, names Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto and the Long Island Housing Partnership, which helped administer the programs, although the suit against the LIHP was settled when the nonprofit group agreed to educate local leaders on the law.
The suit takes issue with the “Next Generation” and “Golden Age” housing programs in which developers are allowed them to build housing more densely than zoning restrictions allow in exchange for lower sale prices for certain units.
It claims that the programs are discriminatory because it gives preference to residents of the town, which has African Americans. Units should have been awarded to residents from more diverse areas beyond the town’s borders to bring it into compliance with federal law, prosecutors alleged.
“It is just plain wrong to suggest that the Town of Oyster Bay is anything but a welcoming community to all people regardless of race,” Venditto said in a statement. “We are now prepared to vigorously defend our housing programs in court, because these housing programs are vitally important to our community.”
New York State Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove) wrote a letter to Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano urging him to direct the Commission on Human Rights investigate into the allegations.