August 24, 2017

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law announced today a major settlement in the case of Long Island Housing Services, Inc. v. Village of Mastic Beach (EDNY). This case against the Village of Mastic Beach, New York and Timothy Brojer, the former Village Administrator of Mastic Beach, challenged code enforcement actions of the defendants that were alleged to discriminatorily target African American renters and their landlords in violation of their constitutional rights. The Lawyers’ Committee co-counseled the lawsuit with Cooley LLP, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, and the non-profit organization Long Island Housing Services, Inc. (LIHS). Under the terms of the settlement, the Village of Mastic Beach will pay $387,500 to the plaintiffs, who include six individual tenants and two landlords.

The Lawyers’ Committee and Cooley LLP filed the lawsuit in 2015 after LIHS contacted them with the results of their investigation into complaints of aggressive code enforcement targeting African American renters and landlords. Specifically, Village of Mastic Beach Code Enforcement officials had evicted several African American tenants who receive housing subsidies, citing minor housing code violations, without providing lawful notice or an opportunity to be heard prior to the eviction.  Village officials routinely ordered tenants to walk away from their homes and belongings with only a few hours’ notice. The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that this conduct violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the United States Constitution, among other laws.

“Racially-motivated housing code enforcement is one of the most insidious forms of discrimination because it is often difficult to ferret out those responsible and hold them accountable,” said Brian Corman of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll. “We are pleased that the settlement brings a measure of justice to those unfairly evicted or otherwise targeted because of their race.”

The full article can be accessed here.