A Syosset-based civil rights group filed a federal housing complaint Monday against Nassau County, asserting that the county discriminates against African-Americans.
ERASE Racism submitted a civil rights complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, claiming that the county “discriminates against African-Americans and perpetuates racial segregation in the administration of its housing and community development programs,” according to a news release.
In the complaint, the group singles out violations it alleges the county made, and what it calls the county’s “failure to enforce federal civil rights requirements” – including overcoming historic patterns of segregation – on members of the Nassau Urban County Consortium.
Millions of dollars of housing funds are allocated by the county’s Office of Community Development to municipalities that are part of the consortium, ERASE Racism said. And In the fiscal year 2014, the county received $15.7 million in HUD block grant funds. To accept the funds, the county and consortium members must comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the federal Fair Housing Act and the separate obligation to affirmatively further fair housing.
Pointing to the 2010 Census, ERASE Racism says that African Americans comprise 11.1 percent of Nassau's overall population, yet a majority of the consortium's municipalities still have "disproportionately small or disproportionately large African-American populations."
The complaint asserts that the county has not enforced civil rights obligations, which has led to "discriminatory" zoning practices and policies, including a lack of affordable multi-family housing. Those kind of exclusions exclusions "serve to limit the number of African Americans in their communities," ERASE Racism stated.
“It has been 50 years since the passage of Civil Rights Act of 1964 that made discrimination based on race or color illegal, yet, as this complaint to HUD shows, African Americans are still being denied housing choice and, consequently, equal access to the same opportunities that white residents of Nassau County enjoy,” said ERASE Racism President Elaine Gross.
The County, however, says it has followed all federal requirements.“Nassau County is in compliance with all federal guidelines,” said, Nassau County Director of Housing and Community Development John Sarcone.
“The county passes through federal dollars to fund projects that are requested by the towns and villages,” Sarcone added.