New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021




Where Swastikas Once Flew, an End to Reverse Discrimination

Long Island

Nazi No More
May 24, 2017

A handful of bills now before the New York City Council and the state legislature in Albany would speed the admissions process in co-ops and require boards to give reasons when rejecting buyers. Sponsors of the bills say they are a way of making board business more transparent and ensuring that boards don’t discriminate against one of the numerous “protected classes” under city, state, and federal anti-discrimination laws. Co-op advocates counter that if the bills become law, the jobs of boards will become even more difficult and subject to litigation.

The State of New York just flipped the coin, announcing it has reached a settlement in an anti-discrimination suit against the German American Settlement League in Yaphank, Long Island, an enclave where Nazi sympathizers once flew swastika flags and marched on streets named for Adolf Hitler and other figures of the Third Reich, the New York Post reports. The legal settlement ends discriminatory policies that limited ownership at the enclave to people of German descent. It also calls for change of the league’s leadership and adherence to all state and federal housing laws.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that even after settlement of a 2016 discrimination case, the German American Settlement League continued to make new membership and property resale “unreasonably difficult.” The league owns the land on which the settlement’s 40 homes are situated, and it leases the land to homeowners. State investigators found that the league prohibited public advertisement of properties for sale. Members seeking to sell their homes could only announce a listing in person at member meetings or through internal flyers and meeting minutes circulated to the existing membership.

Fred Stern, a league board member, conceded that much of the real estate turnover through the years had taken place by word of mouth. There was no need to advertise a sale, he said, because “everybody knew when a house would become available.”

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