MANHATTAN (CN) – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement Wednesday mandating the end of the “German whites only” housing practices of a Nazi-founded Long Island suburb.
The settlement follows an October 2015 housing discrimination lawsuit filed in New York’s Eastern District by the nonprofit Long Island Housing Services on behalf of homeowners Philip Kneer and Patricia Flynn-Kneer against the German-American Settlement League.
The Eastern District complaint resulted in a 2016 settlement that required the league to institute a number of reforms, including revising its by-laws to no longer exclude membership to people not of German extraction and to permit members to advertise home sales to the public.
Despite changes from the 2016 settlement, Schneiderman’s investigation found aspects of the league’s membership application process and property lease-ownership to be “unreasonably difficult” and concluded “these conditions disparately impacted non-white, non-German prospective members who had historically been explicitly excluded from membership under the GASL’s previous policies, and prevented any substantial turnover among GASL homeowners.”
The league owns Siegfried Park, a 40-acre residential subdivision that included streets named for Nazi figures Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebels and Adolf Hitler.
The original bylaws of the housing tract had included the specification requiring the homeowners to be primarily “of German extraction.”
In a statement Wednesday, Schneiderman said, “Today’s settlement prohibits the GASL from discriminating against individuals on the basis of race or national origin and requires the organization to fully reform membership policies, governance structure, and internal controls in order to ensure compliance with existing federal, state, and local fair housing and not-for-profit corporation laws.”
The reforms to internal league controls include replacing its president and treasurer, and regularly reporting to the Attorney General’s office to demonstrate compliance.
According to the Kneers’ 2015 lawsuit, the league rents about 50 lots to members who live in Siegfried Park but ensured that it remains a white enclave by “enforcing a number of rules that restrict homeownership to members who are required primarily to be individuals of German extraction.”
Siegfried Park is located in Yaphank, Long Island, 65 miles east of New York City, in the southern part of the Long Island town of Brookhaven.
Until 1940, the league received funding from the German-American Bund party, a pro-Nazi group formed in the United States in the mid-1930s.
Federal law prohibits racially exclusionary housing covenants.
The implementation of the settlement is being handled by being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Diane Lucas of the Civil Rights Bureau and Catherine Suvari of the Charities Bureau.
Representatives from Yaphank and the German-American Settlement League did not immediately respond to requests for comment.