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Village of Coxsackie, New York Sued for Excluding African Americans and Families with Children

On October 1, 2018, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed suit against the Village of Coxsackie, New York on behalf of UMH Properties, a developer seeking to build a community of affordable manufactured homes in the village. UMH began plans to develop a manufactured home community called Mountainview Estates in 2004. Village officials initially supported the development, but immediately reversed their position when residents in the area mounted an opposition campaign. Village officials bowed to the residents' discriminatory views and for the next thirteen years utilized a variety of methods to prevent the development.

After designing a modern, well-researched community with the help of engineers, housing market experts, and planners, UMH submitted multiple applications that met the Village's stated requirements. The Village, however, approved none of the applications. Ultimately the Village simply changed the zoning code to prevent UMH from building any kind of manufactured home community on the property it had purchased.

Coxsackie has a dearth of affordable housing, and Mountainview Estates would help alleviate the demand for housing among lower income households and particularly among families with children. Mountainview Estates would add approximately 300 homes, most of which could be purchased for $ 100,000 or less or rented at affordable rates. While the Village is over 96% white, neighboring towns and cities are much more diverse. As described in the complaint, resistance to Mountainview Estates by Village officials perpetuates these patterns of segregation and has the purpose and effect of excluding a disproportionate number of African Americans and families with children who would buy or rent homes in the UMH community.

The case, filed in the Albany Division of the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York, alleges that the Village engaged in race and familial status discrimination in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act and that its obstruction of Mountainview Estates and alteration of the zoning code violated state law. The Relman, Dane & Colfax litigation team includes Reed Colfax, Joseph Wardenski, and Andrea Lowe.

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