Opening Acts: January 6, 2017

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Alleging Source of Income Discrimination

Four Women Seek to Intervene in Lawsuit Against the Owners and Managers of Brooklyn’s Spring Creek Towers

Yesterday, four homeless or formerly homeless women with rental subsidies filed a class action complaint alleging that Starrett City, Inc. and Grenadier Realty Corp. are continuing to discriminate against prospective renters based on source of income, in violation of New York City Human Rights Laws.  In the class action complaint, the plaintiffs are seeking to intervene in a pending lawsuit filed by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and two individual plaintiffs on August 31, 2015.

These four plaintiffs allege that their families were denied an opportunity to rent apartments at the 5,881-unit, 46-tower apartment complex known as Spring Creek Towers because they were planning to pay their rent with a Living in Communities (LINC) rental subsidy. The LINC program was created by the City of New York to assist eligible homeless individuals and families moving from temporary shelters into permanent housing.  There are more than 60,000 homeless individuals living in the City’s shelter system include over 20,000 children.

On July 7, 2016, the New York State County Supreme Court ruled in favor of the FHJC and the two individual plaintiffs on a motion to dismiss the case filed by the defendants, and granted preliminary injunction to one of the named individuals ordering the defendants to process her rental application “notwithstanding the basis of her source of income.”  The Defendants are appealing that decision.  Despite having lost their case, the defendants continue to illegally deny applicants who indicate that they will use a LINC rental subsidy to help pay their rent.  Each of the four women were informed upon submitting their rental application to Spring Creek Towers that the landlord will not accept LINC vouchers.

Intervenor Alaire Chappell stated, in a release issued by The Legal Aid Society, “I just want to move my family out of shelter and get my daughter and I a place we can call home.”  After being informed that the defendants would not consider her application for housing in August 2016, Ms. Chappell contacted the FHJC for assistance.

“The troubling allegations presented in the amended complaint filed today amply demonstrate that the defendants continue to discriminate based on source of income and defiantly refuse to comply with the City Human Rights Law,” said FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg. “This class action seeks to stop the defendants from trampling on the fair housing rights of individuals and families seeking to use Living in Communities (LINC) vouchers to secure decent affordable housing.”

“We regret that Starrett and Grenadier continue to refuse to comply with the law,” said Robert Desir, a staff attorney at Legal Aid and one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs.  “New Yorkers have a right to apply for any apartment they choose, free from discrimination, and anyone who can show they can pay the rent is entitled to be considered as a potential tenant.”

The class action complaint seeks injunctive and declaratory relief to stop the defendants’ discriminatory behavior and non-discriminatorily process and evaluate the applications of the four proposed intervenor plaintiffs, as well as damages and attorney’s fees. The plaintiffs are represented by Robert Desir, Judith Goldiner, Joshua Goldfein, and Beth Hofmeister from The Legal Aid Society.

The mission of the FHJC, a nonprofit civil rights organization, is to eliminate housing discrimination; promote policies and programs to foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities; and strengthen fair housing enforcement in the New York City region.