Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lawsuit: Brooklyn Landlord Rolls Out 'Welcome Mat' For Whites Only; 'Testers' Say Black Renters Need Not Apply

In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, the New York Post reports:

  • An advocacy group filed suit yesterday against the operators of a Brooklyn apartment building it says turned away black applicants in favor of prospective white ones.

    The federal civil-rights lawsuit filed by the Fair Housing Justice Center(1) says the nonprofit sent several undercover “testers” to the building at 7502 Ridge Blvd. in Bay Ridge and found that that whites got a more welcoming reception.(2)

    The building’s two superintendents “repeatedly lied to the African-American testers about the availability of apartments, telling them that no apartments would be available . . .even as they were at the same time showing an immediately available apartment to the white testers,” the suit says.

    The suit cites one incident in which a black woman asked about renting an apartment and was told that none apartments were vacant and and then was told by the super that the super didn’t have the broker’s phone number. The next day, a white female tester inquiring about an apartment was told a unit was available and given the broker’s number, and informed that the unit rented for $1,400 a month, the suit says.

    Hal Shapiro, one of the principals of building owner Merz Realty, said that he’d never condone discriminatory policies and that that he owns several buildings where all the residents are black.
Source: ‘Whites only’ at Brooklyn building.

(1) The Fair Housing Justice Center, Inc. (FHJC) is a regional fair housing organization based in New York City. The FHJC provides a full-service fair housing program to New York City and the seven surrounding New York counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk, and Westchester.

(2) See Fair Housing Defense blog: Standing and Fair Housing Testers for a brief introduction to the subject of outfits that employ testers and their legal standing to file Fair Housing lawsuits.

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