Settlement Announced in Borough Park Race Discrimination Lawsuit
COURT-ORDERED AGREEMENT INCLUDES INJUNCTIVE RELIEF AND $120,000 RECOVERY
On September 21, 2021, a settlement was announced in a race discrimination lawsuit the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC) brought against 1137 63rd Street LLC and building owner/manager Kostas Paxis. The federal lawsuit, filed in November 2019 by the FHJC and four African American undercover testers, alleged that the defendants discriminated against African American prospective renters in violation of federal, state, and local fair housing laws.
1137 63rd Street, a rental property in the predominantly white Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, was the subject of an undercover investigation by the FHJC. The discriminatory conduct alleged in the lawsuit includes quoting higher rents to the Black testers relative to their white undercover counterparts.
While the defendants deny liability, they agreed to pay $120,000, comply with fair housing laws, and implement activities that will ensure future compliance including, but not limited to:
- Adopting an equal housing opportunity policy for all company principals, employees and agents;
- Including fair housing logos and language in all rental ads and application forms, and displaying fair housing posters from HUD and the New York City Commission on Human Rights in offices and apartment lobbies;
- Ensuring that all rents are set, communicated, offered, and charged in a non-discriminatory manner;
- Publicly posting available apartments on websites and apps like StreetEasy or Zillow;
- Requiring fair housing training by the FHJC for all partners, agents, and owners directly involved in the renting and/or managing apartments at the building; and
- Maintaining certain rental records for inspection by the FHJC for the duration of the three (3) year agreement.
The agreement was so-ordered by United States District Judge Hon. Pamela K. Chen. The FHJC and tester plaintiffs were represented by Mariann Meier Wang and Daniel Mullkoff of Cuti Hecker Wang LLP.
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.