On November 24, 2015, U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III signed an agreement resolving a housing discrimination lawsuit involving 43-unit rental building in Brooklyn. The complaint, filed in January 2015 by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and three African-American testers, alleged that a rental agent for FGC 710 Avenue S. LLC engaged in racially discriminatory rental practices. The complaint alleged, among other things, that African-American testers were quoted higher rents and security deposits or were told no apartments were available while the same agent quoted lower rents and security deposits and provided information about available apartments to comparably qualified white testers.
As part of the injunctive relief in this case, the defendants agreed to adopt, post, and distribute a fair housing policy, require employees and agents to participate in fair housing training, ensure that available rental units are publicly advertised, and require uniform standards and procedures for showing available apartments and dispensing information about them. The order provides that the defendants will maintain rental records and the FHJC will be able to monitor compliance with the agreement for a period of four years. Finally, the defendants agreed to pay the plaintiffs $95,000 for damages and attorney’s fees.
The plaintiffs were represented by Milton L. Williams, Jr. with the law firm of Vladeck, Raskin & Clark P.C.
Westchester Landlord Alters Rental Practices and Pays $150,000
AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO OBTAIN APARTMENT, DAMAGES, AND FREE RENT FOR 2 YEARS
Locally in July, U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel signed an agreement resolving a housing discrimination lawsuit involving rental housing in New Rochelle, New York in Westchester County. The complaint, filed in December 2014, by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), two African-American testers, and an African-American renter alleged that the owners and managers of the 216-unit Pelham East Apartments engaged in racially discriminatory rental practices. The lawsuit named, as defendants, Fraken Builders, Inc., La Sala Mason Corp., Rochambeau Realty & Development Corp., Andrew LaSala, and Andrea La Sala Suter.
The lawsuit resulted from a complaint filed with the FHJC by Donna P., an African-American woman who alleged that she tried, without success, for over a year to obtain an apartment at this rental complex. FHJC conducted a testing investigation which corroborated the allegation and yielded evidence that agents were misrepresenting to African-American testers that no apartments were available, while providing information about available apartments and showing apartments to comparably qualified white testers. The testing was funded through a Fair Housing Initiatives Program grant from the United State Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg commented, “This is yet another example of how testing is often the only way to learn whether landlords are providing the same information, quoting the same prices, offering the same service, and affording the same treatment to people of different races.” Freiberg added, “Without testing, most racial discrimination in housing would go undetected and unchallenged.
The mission of the FAIR HOUSING JUSTICE CENTER (FHJC) is to eliminate housing discrimination, promote open, accessible, and inclusive communities, and strengthen enforcement of fair housing laws.