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Lawsuit Filed Against Suffolk County Apartment Complex for Racial Discrimination

ECBA filed suit in federal district court alleging racially discriminatory renting practices at Mayfair Garden Apartments, a 107-unit apartment complex in Suffolk County on Long Island. ERASE Racism, Inc. and the Fair Housing Justice Center worked together to send similarly qualified white and African-American testers posing as potential renters to the defendants’ property to inquire about the availability of apartments and rental terms. The tests revealed that the building superintendent treated African-American testers less favorably than white testers during 2014. ERASE Racism and the Fair Housing Justice Center are joined as plaintiffs in the suit by the African Americans testers who were discriminated against. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk and Theodor O. Oxholm.

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ECBA Settles Race Discrimination Case Against Nassau County Landlord

A federal judge approved a settlement agreement in ERASE Racism, et al. v. LLR Realty, LLC , et al., a case filed by ECBA in 2013 alleging race discrimination at a 74-unit rental apartment building in the Nassau County village of Mineola based on a testing investigation conducted by the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC). The three-year agreement provides for injunctive relief, including the adoption of non-discriminatory rental policies, advertising available apartments, and attending fair housing training. It also provides ERASE Racism, the FHJC, and three African American testers with $165,000 in damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. Plaintiffs were represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk and Sam Shapiro.

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ECBA files a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the Village of Great Neck Plaza and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA)

ECBA filed a housing discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the predominantly white Village of Great Neck Plaza and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency (NCIDA). The suit alleges that the Village zoning code discriminates against African Americans by imposing eligibility criteria for affordable housing that gives a preference to local residents. The complaint also alleges that the code excludes certain applicants for affordable housing based on age and disability. Finally, the complaint alleges that the NCIDA provided financial assistance for affordable housing in the Village subject to the zoning code’s discriminatory requirements and preferences. The two non-profit plaintiffs, Long Island Housing Services and Fair Housing Justice Center, are represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk and David A. Lebowitz.

To read the complaint, click here.

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ECBA files a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the owner and manager of two Bronx apartment buildings

ECBA filed a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court against the owner and manager of two Bronx apartment buildings on behalf of the Fair Housing Justice Center and three African American testers. The FHJC conducted a testing investigation which the complaint alleges shows that in 2013 and 2014 white testers were told about and shown vacant apartments for rent, while African Americans were told that no apartments were available. The plaintiffs are represented by ECBA’s Diane L. Houk.

To read the complaint, click here.

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ECBA Settles Race Discrimination Case Against Brooklyn Landlord

A federal judge approved a settlement agreement in FHJC et al v. Kara Realty et al, a case filed by ECBA in 2013 alleging race discrimination at Brooklyn rent-stabilized apartment buildings based on a testing investigation conducted by the Fair Housing Justice Center. The agreement provides $212,000 to the FHJC and four African American testers for damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs. The three-year agreement covers sixteen buildings managed by Ocean Empire Management Company and containing over 900 apartments. The agreement provides for injunctive relief, including adopting non-discriminatory rental policies, advertising available apartments, and attending fair housing training. Plaintiffs were represented by ECBA’s Katherine Rosenfeld and Diane L. Houk.

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ECBA Represents New York City Council in Stop & Frisk Civil Remedy and Affordable Housing Disclosure Cases

ECBA has been selected to represent the New York City Council in two cases where Mayor Bloomberg has challenged the legality of duly-enacted local legislation.

In Mayor v. City Council, # 451543/2013, the firm is defending the constitutionality of the Community Safety Act (Local Law 71), which creates a civil remedy for persons subjected to bias–based policing. The Act, which allows private suits against the New York Police Department for injunctive relief, was enacted in the wake of a federal court finding that the NYPD’s “stop & frisk” activities violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. Mayor Bloomberg vetoed the legislation, but the City Council voted to override the Mayor’s veto. In the lawsuit, the Mayor alleges that the Act is preempted by state Criminal Procedure Law. Unions representing NYPD sergeants and line officers have joined the suit against the City Council. ECBA lawyers Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Vasudha Talla are handling the case.

Separately, in New York State Association for Affordable Housing et al. v. City Council, # 158093/2013, a trade organization of real estate developers has sued to invalidate Local Law 44, an amendment to the City’s Administrative Code that requires developers to report the wages of workers employed on City-financed housing construction projects. The Bloomberg Administration, joining with the plaintiff trade group, alleges that the law is preempted by state minimum wage and housing finance statutes. ECBA lawyers Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Elizabeth Saylor, and Debra Greenberger are handling the case.

 

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ECBA Files Amicus Brief in U.S. Supreme Court on Behalf of Former HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros and Others in Fair Housing Case

ECBA represented former HUD Secretary Henry G. Cisneros and ten other former HUD officials to file in an amicus curiae brief in the United States Supreme Court in Township of Mount Holly, et al. v. Mt. Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc., et al. The brief discusses HUD’s discriminatory effects regulation and long-standing consistent application of a disparate impact theory of liability in administering and enforcing the Fair Housing Act. The brief argues that the Court should defer to HUD’s reasonable interpretation of the FHA. ECBA’s Diane L. Houk and Vasudha Talla authored the brief.

To read the complaint, click here.

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ECBA Files Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Mineola, New York Apartment Building

ECBA filed a race discrimination lawsuit in federal court on behalf of ERASE Racism, a Long Island-based non-profit organization, the Fair Housing Justice Center (FHJC), and three African American testers against the owner and manager of Town House Apartments in Mineola, New York. The Complaint alleges that African Americans were not shown the same apartments that whites were shown, were quoted a higher monthly rent, and were told to call back in a month or more later because there are people waiting ahead of them for the next available apartment. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk and Samuel Shapiro of ECBA.

To read the complaint, click here.

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ECBA Reaches Settlement in Housing Discrimination Case

The Fair Housing Justice Center and three African American testers reached a settlement with NASA Real Estate Corporation after suing the company for racial discrimination in its 107-unit apartment building in Sunnyside, Queens. The plaintiffs alleged that a superintendent who worked and lived at the building falsely told African-Americans that there were no vacant units available, even though he showed equally-qualified white testers vacant units available to rent in the building. In addition to monetary damages of $130,000, the settlement provides for a detailed three-year injunction that covers over 20 buildings. The plaintiffs were represented by ECBA attorneys Elizabeth S. Saylor, Diane L. Houk, and Vasudha Talla.

To read more about the settlement, please click  here.

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Judge Awards Attorneys’ Fees in HIV/AIDS Housing Discrimination Case

Federal District Court Judge Samuel Conti granted ECBA’s motion for attorneys’ fees in Short v. Manhattan Apts., et al., on June 10, 2013. The lawsuit, which alleged housing discrimination by Defendants Manhattan Apartments and Abba Realty culminated in a week-long bench trial in October 2012. The Court found that the defendants discriminated against prospective renters living with HIV/AIDS who received a housing subsidy from New York City’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration (“HASA”) and awarded damages to the individual plaintiff and the Fair Housing Justice Center (“FHJC”), which conducted corroborative testing. The decision in this case was the first to find discrimination against a HASA client under a 2008 New York City law which prohibits housing discrimination based on lawful source of income.

Judge Conti awarded $507,031.65 in fees and costs to Plaintiffs’ attorneys, noting the significance of the case and the broad injunctive relief awarded. The plaintiffs are represented by Diane L. Houk, of ECBA, along with co-counsel Armen Merjian and Robert Bacigalupi of Housing Works.

To read the decision, click here.

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