Apartments For Rent… For Whites Only?
FHJC TESTING YIELDS EVIDENCE OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST AFRICAN AMERICAN RENTERS AT BROOKLYN APARTMENT BUILDING
Today, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and five African American testers filed a lawsuit in federal district court (EDNY) alleging that ZP Realty Capital LLC; 1411 Apt. LLC; landlord and broker Zev Pollak; and building superintendent Eldina Balic are discriminating against African American prospective renters at a 48-unit rental building located in the predominantly white Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. According to the ZP Realty Capital website, Zev Pollak has managed thousands of rental units in New York City over the past 30 years.
An investigation conducted by the FHJC disclosed that African American and white testers sent to a rental building located at 1411 Avenue N in Brooklyn were treated very differently based on race. The testers posed as prospective renters with similar socio-economic characteristics so that the primary difference between them was race. According to 2010 Census information, the population in this Midwood neighborhood is less than 2% African American. Here are two examples of how testers were treated:
In addition to the lawsuit, the FHJC is filing an administrative complaint with the New York Department of State – Division of Licensing Services alleging that Zev Pollak, a licensed real estate broker, not only engaged in racial discrimination but has a policy of requiring applicants pay a broker’s fee to rent the rent-stabilized apartments that Mr. Pollak owns and manages.
FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg stated, “Racial discrimination in housing, while less visible than it was fifty years ago, is still quite pervasive and just as heinous and harmful as more overt discrimination. Residential racial segregation is not, and never has been, a matter of choice. It was created and is now perpetuated by intentional discriminatory housing practices like those documented in our complaint.” Freiberg added, “It is beyond vexing that a real estate broker, licensed by the State of New York, is directly involved in making housing unavailable to people based on race.”
The plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit are seeking damages and injunctive relief that would bring the defendants into compliance with fair housing laws and ensure non-discrimination in the future. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady, LLP.
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.