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New York AG: Town agrees to end housing practices meant to keep Hasidic Jews out

Letitia James says ‘discriminatory and illegal actions perpetrated by Orange County, Town of Chester are blatantly antisemitic, go against diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance’

New York Attorney General Letitia James is shown at a news conference at her office, in New York, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
New York Attorney General Letitia James is shown at a news conference at her office, in New York, Friday, May 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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 requires 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.

“The discriminatory and illegal actions perpetrated by Orange County and the Town of Chester are blatantly antisemitic, 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 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.

Messages seeking comment were left with town of Chester representatives.

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