New York, NY

Bed-Stuy Realty Company Fined for Housing Discrimination Practices

June 24, 2016
A Brooklyn firm of realtors discriminated against prospective tenants who were using rental assistance vouchers, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Thursday.
     Undercover calls to Rapid Realty Bedford Stuyvesant found that it discriminated against potential applicants with Living In Communities (LINC) III rental assistance vouchers, according to the Attorney General’s office.
     The assistance program helps homeless victims of domestic violence obtain housing.

HUD charges White Plain, New York, Co-op with housing discrimination for refusing to sell unit to persons with disabilities

May 05, 2016
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging a White Plains, New York, co-op with housing discrimination for refusing to grant an exception to its policies that would allow a person with disabilities to buy a unit there.
     HUD’s Office of Regional Counsel for New England, which has jurisdiction over the case, issued the Charge of Discrimination on April 26.Read the charge. The Fair Housing Act protects residents with disabilities who request reasonable accommodations in policies or practices.
     Additionally, the law makes it illegal to make housing unavailable to any person because of a disability. “Persons with disabilities depend on reasonable accommodations to level the playing field when it comes to finding a place to call home. Refusing to provide them denies access to housing and it violates the law,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to take action when owners and homeowner associations fail to meet their obligations under the Fair Housing Act.”

Housing, lending discrimination persist in area

May 05, 2016
Discrimination persists in mortgage lending and housing in the Lower Hudson Valley, potentially making it harder for certain groups of people to find homes here, according to two reports issued this week.
     The reports were released by Westchester Residential Opportunities, a nonprofit with offices in White Plains and Mount Vernon, and were based on investigations funded by grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
     "We're very concerned that there's very limited affordable and accessible housing in Westchester," said Marlene Zarfes, WRO’s fair-housing director. "By doing this study, what we're seeing is (that) discrimination still exists among many protected classes including race, familial status — which means people with children — disability and source of income."

Racially biased code words used in NY housing case

March 24, 2016
Officials in an affluent suburban New York village acquiesced to race-based opposition to a housing project and changed zoning codes to discriminate against minorities, a federal appeals court said this week as it also opened the door to one of America's most affluent counties facing claims it steered affordable housing to its lowest-income communities.
     
     The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan upheld a judge's finding that the village of Garden City on Long Island discriminated against minorities in a zoning decision made after Nassau County decided to sell some land. The court noted village residents used racially biased code words to convince public officials to exclude minorities by changing the land's zoning to mostly exclude multi-family dwellings.
     
     The appeals court said that Garden City residents at public hearings, for instance, claimed multi-family housing would change the "flavor" and "character" of the village and that any construction should involve "upscale" units. It also highlighted residents' claims that their community might become like Brooklyn and Queens, New York City boroughs where minorities are the majority.

Discrimination by Airbnb hosts is widespread, report says

December 14, 2015
Airbnb likes to refer to itself as less a company than a "community." To that end, it has made trust between real people a cornerstone of its business strategy in short-term home rentals.
     But new research suggests that when users get real, racism can result.
     A working paper by three Harvard researchers found "widespread discrimination" by hosts against people with black-sounding names seeking rentals. Fictional guests set up by the researchers with names like Lakisha or Rasheed were roughly 16 per cent less likely to be accepted than identical guests with names like Brent or Kristen.
     "Clearly, the manager of a Holiday Inn cannot examine names of potential guests and reject them based on race," the authors wrote. "Yet, this is commonplace on Airbnb." Airbnb, valued by investors at roughly $24 billion and based in San Francisco, said in a statement that it was "committed to making Airbnb one of the most open, trusted, diverse, transparent communities in the world." It added, "We recognise that bias and discrimination are significant challenges, and we welcome the opportunity to work with anyone that can help us reduce potential discrimination in the Airbnb community."

Schneiderman subpoenas Long Island German housing group

December 14, 2015
Here is the expanded lead item from my "Albany Insider" column from Monday's editions:
     State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office issued a subpoena to a Long Island organization that only allows individuals of primarily German descent to live on its land.
     "The fair housing laws were passed to help promote racial integration and not promote racial segregation, which is a big concern here," a source familiar with the situation said.

The Durst organization fined for developing rental apartment buildings that were inaccessible to persons with disabilities

November 19, 2015
New York real estate developer, The Durst Organization, is now required to ensure that all their ongoing and future development projects should be made more accessible to persons with disabilities, including to make two of their existing apartment buildings in Manhattan more accessible to persons with disabilities. The company is also required to provide up to $515,000 to compensate aggrieved persons, as well as pay a civil penalty of $55,000.
     According to the press release of the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, United States and The Durst Organization have reached a settlement that resolves the federal civil right lawsuit that alleges The Durst Organization to be engaged in a pattern and practice of developing rental apartment buildings that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities or PWDs.
     "This is the ninth in a series of lawsuits that this office has brought against real estate developers and architects who fail to design and construct new apartment buildings accessible to people with disabilities," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
     

Redlining home loan discrimination re-emerges as concern for regulators

November 02, 2015
The New York Times staffer Rachel Swarns reports on Hudson City Savings Bank, which recently agreed to pay nearly $33 million for "redlining," marking the largest settlement for such practices.
     Redlining, in which banks choke off lending to minority communities--drawing a "red line" around a map, circling the neighborhoods in which it doesn't want to lend--was standard practice once upon a time, until the Fair Housing Act of 1968 made it illegal.
     Outlawed decades ago, redlining has re-emerged as a serious concern among regulators as banks have sharply retreated from providing home loans to African-Americans in the wake of the financial crisis, according to Swarns.

New York City outsider - Restriction policy challenged

July 07, 2015
The Anti-Discrimination Center (ADC), acting on behalf of three African-American plaintiffs, is challenging New York City’s policy of barring City residents who live outside the community district in which affordable housing is being built from competing on an equal basis for all available units. The complaint was filed in federal district court in Manhattan today.
     New York City remains the second-most residentially segregated major city in the country, within one of the most segregated major metropolitan areas in the U.S. The patterns of segregation in New York City are unmistakable, and arose from decades of intentional discrimination and segregation.
     The segregation extends to the community district level. Because of this, the City’s policy in connection with half of the units in a development — favoring existing community district residents and disfavoring New Yorkers who live outside the community district — winds up helping the dominant racial or ethnic group in the community district and hurting those groups who are underrepresented in the community district. In other words, the City has long started with mostly segregated community districts and has then put in place a process that tips the scales in favor of the status quo.

New York bans 'poor doors' in win for low income tenants

June 29, 2015
New York City is banning “poor doors” in a move one city official on Monday called a “big win for dignity”.
     Thanks to a little talked about provision in New York’s rent-stabilization law, builders who receive a tax break for offering some units to low-income tenants will no longer be allowed to build separate entrances for the rich and the poor.
     The controversial two-door rule came to an end after New York City mayor Bill de Blasio inserted a provision into a tax bill that was approved by the New York state senate late last week.
     “I think that the state legislature and the city are now doing the right thing in terms of treating people in every socioeconomic group with the same level of respect and dignity,” New York City councilwoman Helen Rosenthal told the Guardian.

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