Opening Acts: January 7, 2021

Astoria Race Discrimination Case Settles


Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) announced that a settlement has been reached in a fair housing lawsuit against 34-08 30th Street LLC and Svetozar Tatkovic. The federal lawsuit, filed on January 9, 2020 by the FHJC and two African American testers, alleged that the defendants discriminated against African American prospective renters in violation of federal, state, and local fair housing laws.

An undercover testing investigation by the FHJC in 2019 revealed widely disparate treatment of Black and white testers sent to a 46-unit rental building located at 34-08 30th Street in Astoria (Queens).   

While the defendants deny liability, they agreed to pay $70,000, comply with fair housing laws, and implement practices that will ensure future compliance including, but not limited to:

  •  Adopting an equal housing opportunity policy and requiring that company principals, employees and agents sign the policy indicating their agreement to comply;
  • Prohibiting building superintendent Valentino Pellumbi from showing apartments, providing information about available apartments, or furnishing rental applications;
  • Publicly posting available apartments on Streeteasy;
  • Maintaining certain rental records for inspection by the FHJC for the duration of the three (3) year agreement; and
  • Fair housing training by the FHJC for employees, agents, and owners directly involved in renting and/or managing apartments at the apartment building.

The agreement was so-ordered by United States District Judge Hon. Frederic Block. The plaintiffs were represented by Mariann Wang and Alex Goldenberg with the law firm of Cuti Hecker Wang LLP.

FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “Fifty-three years after the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act, African American renters and home buyers still face persistent and pervasive racial discrimination in the New York City region. Racially discriminatory housing practices, while difficult for most home seekers to detect, can be documented through testing investigations.” “The FHJC will continue to devote its investigative and enforcement resources to ferreting out racial discrimination in the rental, sale, and financing of housing,” Freiberg added.

FHJC’s investigation in this case was supported with funding from a Private Enforcement Initiative (PEI) grant received from the Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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