Highland Mills, NY – Orange County Housing Development Facing $7.5 Million Suit For Discriminating Against Hasidic Residents

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    Entrance to Highland Lake Estates in Highland Mills, NY on Ridge Rd.Highland Mills, NY – A lawsuit filed against a private community in the Kiryas Joel area may be just the tip of the iceberg, with Hasidic families alleging that they are being subjected to discrimination and harassment in their quest to find suitable housing.

    The $7.5 million federal lawsuit brought by 11 Hasidic Jews charges that they were enveloped by a climate of hostility created by the Highland Lake Estates’ homeowners’ association, its board members and its property manager because of their religion.

    The plaintiffs include residents of the Highland Mills development, a pair of Hasidic real estate brokers and a potential buyer who was warned away from Highland Lake Estates.

    “We view there to be a pervasive and pernicious attempt to limit the occupancy and burden the occupancy of members of a particular religious group, which to me is contrary to basic, state federal and constitutional provisions,” attorney Michael Sussman, who represents the plaintiffs, told VIN News. “That has been acted out in a number of ways to make people feel unwelcome.”

    Entire lawsuit documents here PDF

    According to the 19 page complaint filed on May 24th in United States District Court in White Plains, Yoel and Fraida Fried became the first Hasidic residents of Highland Lake Estates in August 2016 and have since been followed by approximately a dozen others.

    The Frieds reported that on their first night in Highland Lake Estates, members of the homeowner’s association parked a car in front of their home at midnight, shining the vehicle’s headlights into the house for 20 minutes and calling Yoel Fried on his cell phone to ask if he had read the community’s by laws.

    Other acts of intimidation followed, according to the complaint. Resident Aharon Ostreicher woke up the morning after moving into Highland Lake Estates to find eggs thrown against his house, with pickles and potato chips strewn on and around his front porch a day later.

    The defendants also allegedly prevented school buses, delivery trucks and car services serving Hasidic residents from entering the development, outlawed in-home prayer services and declared Sundays a “Home and Family Day of Tranquility,” an act perceived to be aimed at preventing real estate agents from showing homes to Hasidic families on their busiest day of the week.

    Homeowner’s association vice president Christopher Perrino reportedly stalked Hasidim who bought or sought to purchase homes in the development, telling plaintiff Israel Ostreicher to leave, saying “I’m the law.”

    When Ostreicher told Perrino that he was buying a house in Highland Lake Estates, Perrino replied “I know you guys are starting to come in here. You to abide by the by-laws. You need to read the by-laws.”

    Bans against religious displays appear to be enforced only for Hasidic residents, charged Sussmans.

    Residents were permitted to display large outdoor Christmas and Halloween displays, while eruvs were banned and sukkahs were order dismantled. And two Hasidic real estate agents found themselves harassed on multiple occasions, which included being wrongfully confronted by police for criminal trespass, being subjected to racial slurs and having their vehicle surrounded by area residents.

    The situation is demonstrative of a catch-22 situation, observed Sussman. Hasidim are criticized for living in segregated communities, but subjected to discrimination when they try to move elsewhere.

    “You can’t have it both ways,” said Sussman. “You can’t scream and yell about Kiryas Joel and Palm Tree and say no to people trying to exercise broader housing choices.”

    Sussman said that the behaviors exhibited in Highland Lake Estates are also taking place in other areas in Orange and Rockland counties, with elected officials doing nothing to stem what he termed the “unjustified and self-fulfilling hysteria.”

    He noted that a housing project in Chester had been approved and was under construction when one town official said that it would be marketed to Hasidic clientele, prompting local officials to begin questioning whether the municipal sewer capacity could accommodate the housing. The fact that that concern only arose after the possibility of Hasidic residents moving in seemed highly suspicious, said Sussman, who noted that some in government were succumbing to a mob mentality instead of enforcing the law.

    “This is all a capitulation to fear and bigotry,” said Sussman. “Public officials have to stand for something else.”

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    24 COMMENTS

    1. I realize that in Europe yidden had to move to antisemitic countries because there was no where else to go. But I don’t understand why people do that in America.

    2. You don’t have to go all the way upstate, to experience such treatment … look around Brooklyn ,Lakewood ,Toms River ,Jackson .They should have some Muslims move in .

    3. The law applies to all and protects all – if it does not then we no longer have a rule of law.

      If there is proof of what is alleged in this lawsuit, I hope that the lawsuit succeeds.

      And we need to know that the reverse of this is also true – if Chassidishe Yidden act against the law, then they will have the consequences.

    4. Seems the victims here are being treated somewhat in a similar manner that Kiryas Joel treats dissenters within its own community. Kiryas Joel treats Jews this way, but now they complain that non-Jews treat them the same way. Maybe the real answer is first Kiryas Joel has to do teshuvah for how it treated Jews.

    5. Does kiryad Joel have ANY non jews? Same for skver and Kaiser village? They wouldn’t even allow a frum woman who doesn’t shave her head.

      • doesn’t metter. non-jews are allowed in there. if they are not, that is against the law. same here. jews need to be allowed in. if they are not, that is against the law. two wrongs do not make a right. two seperate cases

    6. Why do the Chasidim need to keep pushing outward and outward into other communities who don’t want to live the chasidishe lifestyle?
      It is not racist of them to not want to live in a chasidishe neighborhod. Hasidim need to stop trying to take over neighborhoods. They are causing anti-semitism

      • @Shmilke, this is exactly how old time Monsey people feel. I speak to non jews here, like my auto mechanic, cleaners, etc. I hear awful things about the Chasidim who took over this area. All I can ask of my chasidish neighbors is please be courteous, please drive safe, please take only 1 spot in a lot, don’t cut everyone off because you have no patience for the light, etc. You moved out of BP and Willi for a reason. Please stop turning Monsey into the same ghetto.

      • where should they go????????? when there is high density in the chassidishe neighborhoods you guys complain that it is not safe; they’re violating zoning; etc. when they move to a new neighborhood you tell them to go back to the high density neighborhoods. i guess you want all chassidim to be pushed into the mediterranean??????

    7. “We view there to be a pervasive and pernicious attempt to limit the occupancy and burden the occupancy of members of a particular religious group, which to me is contrary to basic, state federal and constitutional provisions,” attorney Michael Sussman, who represents the plaintiffs, told VIN News. “That has been acted out in a number of ways to make people feel unwelcome.”

      Hilarious!

    8. We are not liked in galus and this is not our land. Many gentiles don’t like us and there is no way out of this. Our place is not here but in Israel. Hashem please take us back.

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