New York City landlords pay $100,000 for refusing to rent or show apartments to African-Americans

A father and daughter who refused to rent to African-Americans agreed, in September, topay $100,000 to settle a fair housing lawsuit filed by Jerryl Bell, an African-Americanman, and the Open Housing Center, a private fair housing organization in New York City.Bell will receive $65,000 and the Open Housing Center will receive $35,000. The August1996 lawsuit accused the defendants of breaking federal, state, and city fair housinglaws.

Jerryl Bell responded to an ad in New York's Daily News foran apartment in Astoria. Henry Bosio, a real estate broker, took Bell's call. Bosio askedBell if he was Black or white. When Bell told Bosio that he was Black, Bosio said,"We're only looking for white applicants." Convinced that he had been a victimof discrimination, Bell contacted the Open Housing Center and explained the situation.

Testing evidence showed a pattern of discrimination
The Center used testers to inquire about apartments from Bosio. The investigation showed apattern of discrimination, according to the Open Housing Center. Further investigationshowed that no African-American tenants lived in the buildings owned or managed by Bosio.

Michelle Lee, one of the Center's Testing Coordinators, supervised the investigation.She said, "When testers called, Mr. Bosio asked them if they were Black or white. Herefused to show apartments to Black testers, while he courted white testers and showedthem apartments." The Daily News described the neighborhood where theapartment was located as "mostly middle class Greek and Italian." The ad, whichlisted the rent at $625 per month, ran in the Daily News.

Bell and the Open Housing Center sued Bosio and his daughter, Mary JoPelltieri, the owner of the property that was advertised. Rita Sethi, the Open HousingCenter's staff attorney, represented the plaintiffs in the complaint.

Man tells reporter he became "numb" and then"angry" when he encountered discrimination
When he first realized that he was being discriminated against, Bell told the DailyNews, he became "very numb" and got "very angry." Bell said thathe felt "relieved about the settlement." He added, "I hope it teaches[Bosio] a lesson that he can't discriminate against people because of their race. A personshould have the right to live where he wants. In the future, Bosio will think twice aboutdiscrimination."

Phyllis Spiro, the Open Housing Center's Deputy Director, said that the discriminatoryacts performed by Bosio were not subtle. "They say housing discrimination has becomemore subtle and more sophisticated. Well, Mr. Bosio must not have heard them. He says heonly wants whites. You can't get more blatant than that. Mr. Bosio has paid dearly forthose words."