Rockland battles exclusionary housing and over-development

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A symposium hoping to solve some housing problems in Rockland County was held in Suffern Wednesday.

Nearly 100 people turned out to the county-run fair housing symposium at Rockland Community College, including town leaders and people from veteran rights group and neighborhood community organizations.

The symposium's hot button issue is how to make sure no one is denied housing based on race, religion, age or other so-called protected characteristics. The question is how to get people equal access to housing in an area deeply divided over development.

But the biggest problem in Rockland, county officials say, is that when large developments are built, some even earmarked as affordable housing, and then those units are filled only by members of the ultra-Orthodox community.

That's considered exclusionary or discriminatory housing and officials say it has to stop. "There are a number of developments that are going up or being contemplated right now, and one thing this administration will do is keep looking at the marketing practices that are being done to make sure houses are being built marketed fairly to everyone and not just one area or group," says Rockland County Executive Ed Day.

Ella Hill, of Spring Valley, says she has tried to move many times in the area and find a home she can afford. She says she has been denied several times by landlords and development agencies because she's African American and physically disabled.

Anyone who thinks they have been denied housing due to race, age, gender or religion should call the Rockland County Commission on Human Rights at 845-364-3886.

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