AG James Issues Statement on Orange County Jewish Discrimination Case

AG James Successfully Intervenes in Lawsuit Over Anti-Semitic
Practices Against the Jewish Community in Chester, NY  

ORANGE COUNTY – New York Attorney General Letitia James issued the following statement in response to a court’s decision to grant her motion to intervene in a lawsuit against the Town of Chester and Orange County over the use of discriminatory housing practices in order to prevent members of the Jewish community from moving to Chester, New York. Today’s decision allows the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to officially join a lawsuit against the town and county over violations of the Fair Housing Act to prevent the development of “The Greens at Chester.” 

“This is a critical step in our efforts to fight housing discrimination,” said Attorney General James. “Blocking the construction of homes in order to keep out the Jewish community is anti-Semitic, violates our fair housing laws, and goes against everything that this state and this country stand for. New York prides itself on its diversity and inclusion, and my office will continue to ensure that everyone — regardless of what they look like, where they’re from, or how they pray — is afforded equal opportunities in housing.”  

In December 2019, Attorney General James moved to intervene in a lawsuit against the Town of Chester and Orange County, alleging that they have engaged in a concerted and systematic effort to prevent Hasidic Jewish families from moving to Chester by blocking the construction of a housing development. The original lawsuit, filed in July 2019 by the developers of the “The Greens at Chester,” outlined countless discriminatory and unnecessary actions that Chester and Orange County have taken to stop the homes from being built in order to prevent Jewish families from purchasing and occupying them, gross violations of the Fair Housing Act.  

The Fair Housing Act dictates that it is unlawful for anyone to refuse to sell or rent a dwelling based on an individual's religion, race, sex, national origin, or familial status, among other protected classes. This lawsuit outlines the town and county’s anti-Semitic campaign to specifically target and prevent Hasidic Jewish developers from operating in the town and Hasidic Jewish families from residing in the town. 

This case is led by Jessica Clarke, Bureau Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau, Sania W. Khan, Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Bureau, Vinita Kamath, Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office, and Clarence Okoh, an intern at the Civil Rights Bureau. The Regional Offices are led by the Director of Regional Offices Jill Faber and the Civil Rights Bureau is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Meghan Faux; both are overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.