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Friday, October 24, 2014
Consent decree will end housing suit
(Page 2 of 3)
Courtesy Google Earth
The homes on D’Amato Drive in Island Park have been the center of contention for more than two decades. Built with federal funds and earmarked for minorities, they went instead to non-minorities.

“The government and the village have engaged in complex negotiations in the past four years,” Millus added. “This is an appropriate settlement that benefits the residents of Island Park.”

In addition to the initial $1 million, beginning in June 2017, the village will have to pay $21,000 per month for 78 months to satisfy the remainder of the judgment.

Millus said that about $1.06 million would be funded by tax increases that would begin in 2017, but that it is still too early to know just what those increases would be.

In addition to the monetary punishment, there are other sanctions as well, stemming from the village’s acknowledgment in the decree that it discriminated against minorities more than 20 years ago, when the federal government built minority housing in Island Park, but the houses all went to political insiders and locals. According to court papers, as of last month, only three black families owned homes in Island Park. The 2010 Census lists 89 African-Americans as residents of the village, about 1.91 percent of its population.

In accordance with the decree, the candidates for the fair-housing administrator’s job must be vetted by both the village and the federal government, and the court must approve the selection. In addition, all employees of the village must undergo yearly anti-discrimination training.

The administrator will develop an affirmative marketing plan to support African-Americans who want to buy homes in the village, and must identify and develop sources of funding for prospective minority homeowners.

The village has four years to attract an additional 17 African-American homeowners. According to Millus, the federal government wanted to make that number a demand, but it was negotiated down to an “anticipated number.”

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