Mastic Beach settles housing discrimination lawsuit for $387K
Mastic Beach mayor Robert Miller directed the village's attorneys to settle a housing discrimination lawsuit for more than $387,000.
According to a lawsuit, the village targeted African-American renters and landlords using minor code violations to evict tenants who received housing assistance, often forcing them out with just a few hours' notice.
"There is evidence indicating that the code enforcement would be targeted to the Section 8 tenants who were mostly minorities," says Joseph Rich, the co-director of the Fair Housing Project and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The lawsuit also claims that one of the reasons why the village of Mastic Beach was established in the first place was to unfairly enforce the code to drive African-Americans out of town.
"I would never support anything like that. I believe in equal opportunity for everyone that lives in the village," says Mayor Miller, who was not in office at the time of the alleged discrimination.
The cash-strapped village government is preparing to dissolve and go back under the jurisdiction of the Town of Brookhaven. It will take effect by the end of the year.
The mayor says insurance will pay for most of the settlement. Residents are only on the hook for $5,000. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the village has already handed over the money.