Opening Acts Newsletter: October 24, 2014

Landlord Rejects Tenants with Rental Assistance

FHJC Lawsuit Alleges Source of Income Discrimination

On October 21, 2014, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) and Barbara S., an African American woman with a Section 8 Housing Voucher, filed a state court lawsuit in Manhattan alleging that the owners and managers of apartment buildings in New York City discriminate against Section 8 Voucher holders in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law.  The lawsuit names Carnegie Management, Ditmas Park LLC, and Ditmas Park Two LLC as defendants.  Since 2008, the New York City Human Rights Law has prohibited discrimination in housing based on source of income, including rental subsidies.

In 2012, Barbara S. complained to the FHJC that Carnegie Management refused to rent to her because she has a rental subsidy.  In response to her complaint, the FHJC conducted an undercover testing investigation involving two Carnegie properties in Brooklyn, a 65-unit apartment building located at 585-599 East 21st Street and a 48-unit apartment building located 2211 Ditmas Avenue.  The testing investigation confirmed that agents for the defendants informed renters with Section 8 housing vouchers that they would not be accepted while encouraging renters without rental subsidies to apply for available apartments owned and managed by the defendants.

“Overt discrimination based on source of income is still widespread in the rental market in New York City,” FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg commented.  Freiberg added, “Rental subsidies offer individuals and families a chance to obtain decent housing in rental buildings and neighborhoods that offer greater security, amenities, and opportunities. But when that search for housing is cruelly thwarted by landlords, property managers, or real estate agents who refuse to accept rental subsidies, not only are fair housing rights violated, but the hopes of these renters are dashed and housing opportunities are lost.  These discriminatory practices also impose enormous social and economic costs on the entire community by reinforcing patterns of concentrated poverty and residential racial segregation.”

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief to stop the discrimination, as well as damages and attorney’s fees.  The plaintiffs are represented by Milton L. Williams, Jr. with the law firm of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias, & Engelhard, P.C.