“Keep the Children Out, Build More.” White Plains Westchester Residential Opportunities Sues Bronxville for Allegedly Discriminating Against Families with Children

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WPCNR WHITE PLAINS LAW JOURNAL. From Westchester Residential Opportunities. January 15, 2015:

Executive Director Geoffrey Anderson of Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. (WRO) announces that WRO today filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Bronxville and developer Gateway Kensington LLC for illegal housing discrimination against families with children. Mr. Anderson remarked: “Housing discrimination in all forms must be challenged, so that families and people of all ages are welcome in our communities. Bronxville and its developer have deliberately set out to design and market new condominiums to deter families with children from moving into the Village.”

Bronxville has created an “age-targeted” special permit in its zoning code, which allows developers to build more units than allowed as of right if the housing is “designed to appeal primarily to individuals and couples without children,” as stated in Bronxville’s code. In 2013, Bronxville granted an “age-targeted” permit for the development of 54 condominium units on Kensington Road at a downtown site owned by the Village near the Metro-North train station. The apartments are intentionally designed with few bedrooms and with dens lacking closets and placed far from bathrooms. Moreover, the development will not offer any child-friendly amenities.

Director of Fair Housing Marlene Zarfes said the following: “Such discrimination is not only wrong but illegal. Municipalities violate fair housing laws when they develop housing for so-called empty nesters and discourage families from living in their communities. While age-restricted housing for seniors can be created legally under federal law, it must be for those either 55 or 62 and older.”

The lawsuit is being filed under both the federal Fair Housing Act and New York State’s Human Rights Act for discrimination based on familial status and age. WRO’s investigation of the Village, which led to the filing of this lawsuit, was supported by a grant provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Fair Housing Initiatives Program.Founded in 1968 to fight housing discrimination in its region, Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. is a private nonprofit organization and a federally approved housing counseling agency. Its mission is to promote equal, affordable, and accessible housing opportunities for all residents of the Lower Hudson Valley.

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