Opening Acts: January 16, 2015

FHJC Documents Racially Discriminatory Practices at Brooklyn Apartment Building 

African Americans Quoted Higher Rents than Whites

On January 16, 2015, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and three African American testers filed a lawsuit in federal district court (SDNY) alleging that the owner of a 43-unit apartment building located at 710 Avenue S in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn discriminates on the basis of race. The lawsuit alleges that an agent for FGC 710 Ave. S., LLC quoted higher rents or represented that apartments were not available to African American testers while telling comparably qualified white testers about available apartments or quoting lower monthly rents. The lawsuit alleges that, for example, African American testers were quoted from $50 to $200 more per month in rent for available apartments than their white counterparts. The higher rents also translated into higher security deposits being required for African Americans. On one test, the white tester was told about available apartments and the African American tester was told that no apartments were available and that “nobody was moving out.”

The lawsuit seeks damages and injunctive relief to stop the discrimination and ensure future compliance with fair housing laws. The plaintiffs are represented by Milton L. Williams, Jr. with the law firm of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias & Engelhard, P.C.

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg commented, “As we prepare to celebrate the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday, this case is a painful reminder that we as a nation have not made enough progress toward eradicating racial discrimination in housing and creating more open, just, and inclusive communities. It is clear that government at all levels must devote more resources to achieving this vital policy goal.” Freiberg added, “Fair housing is not just a legal requirement, it is a moral imperative for a nation that seeks to fully embrace the democratic principles of fairness and equality.”