Sunday, December 25, 2016

Year-Long Fair Housing Testing Probe Targeting Major Bronx Apartment Complex Ends With Lawsuit Alleging Violations Of NYC Human Rights Law; Landlord Accused Of Discriminating Against Prospective Tenants Who Use Gov't Subsidies To Fund Monthly Rent Payments

In New York City, the Fair Housing Justice Center recently announced:
  • [T]he Fair Housing Justice Center(1) (FHJC) filed an administrative complaint with the New York City Human Rights Commission (NYCCHR) alleging that the owners and managers of rental housing at Parkchester in the Bronx unfairly limited or outright denied housing to tenants with rental subsidies in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law. In the complaint, the FHJC alleges that the Parkchester Preservation Company, L.P. and Parkchester Preservation Management LLC with offices located at 2000 East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx engaged in discrimination based on source of income.

    In an effort to reduce homelessness and assist some of the most vulnerable populations to acquire and maintain housing, New York City makes an array of rental subsidies available to lower-income individuals and families. The Parkchester community, home to nearly 30,000 New Yorkers, contains 171 buildings with more than 12,000 housing units including 6,000 rental units.

    A year-long testing investigation conducted by the FHJC revealed that the defendants maintain and enforce an income requirement on all applicants including applicants who plan to pay all or a portion of their rent with a rental subsidy. This income requirement effectively makes housing unavailable to and discriminates against applicants with rental subsidies under the Living in Communities (LINC) program and under the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) program even though the rents for many apartments at Parkchester are within the rent amounts allowed by these programs.

    On one test, a tester who indicated that he had a disability, was not employed, and 100% of his rent would be paid by the City’s HASA program was informed that he would still not qualify for the housing because an annual income of $45,000 was required of all applicants.

    Finally, for persons with federal Section 8 housing vouchers, FHJC’s testing revealed that Parkchester maintained a policy of counting less than a third of the voucher amount as “income” toward the applicant income requirement which restricts the number of tenants with Housing Choice Vouchers who might otherwise qualify to rent an apartment at Parkchester.

    FHJC Executive Director Fred Freiberg commented, “Not only do the policies and practices exposed by our investigation run afoul of the law, but refusing to rent to households with rental subsidies directly contributes to the growing problem of homelessness in New York City.” Freiberg added, “Discriminating against persons because of their source of income, including housing subsidies, has been illegal in New York City since 2008 and yet some of the largest housing providers in this community are still flagrantly ignoring the law and discriminating with impunity.”

    Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against based on their source of income or housing subsidy should call the FHJC at (212) 400-8201.
Source: FHJC Complaint Cites Source of Income Discrimination at Parkchester (FHJC Investigation Found That Owners And Managers Discriminate Against Tenants With Various Rentak Subsidies.
(1) The Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), a nonprofit civil rights organization, is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination, promoting policies that foster open, accessible, and inclusive communities, and strengthening enforcement of fair housing laws.

Among other things, the FHJC assists individuals and organizations with allegations of illegal housing discrimination. The following services are provided free of charge to the general public and there are no income requirements:
  • Counseling on fair housing rights,
  • Investigative assistance (including testing),
  • Referrals to cooperating attorneys and/or administrative agencies (on a case by case basis)
The FHJC serves all five boroughs of New York City and the seven surrounding New York counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester.